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SPRINGVILLE — In every picture that came to Greg and Cindy Thredgold of their son serving a mission in Taiwan, there was something that stood out.
"Connor just never smiled that big," Greg Thredgold said Saturday. "In every photo he is so happy, and he wrote back how he just loved the people of Taiwan and was just so loved by them. We would just get the pictures and go, 'Look how happy he is. He is truly, genuinely happy to be serving the Lord.'"
Connor Benjamin Thredgold, 19, was one of three LDS missionaries — two of them from Utah — who died this weekend in two separate incidents. His mother said she knows he was where he wanted to be.
"He wanted to do this," she said Saturday at her Springville home. "He wanted to make his family proud. He was truly happy doing what he was doing."
Connor Thredgold, of the Church's Springville Utah West Stake, was found dead in his apartment, along with Elder Yu Peng Xiong, of the Kaohsiung Taiwan West Stake.
Authorities have not yet determined the official cause of their deaths, but Church spokeswoman Jessica Moody said no foul play is suspected. The family declined to answer any questions about potential causes, referring questions to Moody. She said late Saturday the church still had not been able to confirm any cause.
I don\'t think you would find a kinder, happier young man out there. He\'s the kind of young man that you would be proud to have as a father and as a friend.
–Tom McHoes, family friend
Tom McHoes, a neighbor and family friend, said Thredgold's mission president raved about the young man, reporting that he was hardworking and friendly while serving in Taiwan.
"There wasn't anybody he wouldn't talk to or smile at, and that pretty much sums it up," McHoes said. "I don't think you would find a kinder, happier young man out there. He's the kind of young man that you would be proud to have as a father and as a friend."
Thredgold's family said their son had also shown a knack for speaking Mandarin and had been assigned to a native Taiwanese companion, despite having been in Taiwan for only three months. They said he worked tirelessly to earn money for his mission, working 24-hour shifts at times for a disaster cleanup company and repairing computers and remote control cars to resell.
"He was so excited to go out there and do that," McHoes said. "Connor was one of those kids that had a zest for life."
In the wake of the news of his death, his parents said they have been flooded with support from those in their LDS ward and stake. "We are surrounded by wonderful people," Greg Thredgold said.
It was anticipated that the Elder Connor Thredgold Memorial Fund would be established at Wells Fargo by day's end Monday.
Contributing: Emiley Morgan and Nkoyo Iyamba