SALT LAKE CITY — Tens of thousands of people lined up at the LDS Church Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City Thursday to say goodbye to a beloved church leader and community servant.
The viewing for late LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson began at 9 a.m. and lasted until 8 p.m. As the viewing concluded, more than 31,500 people had gone through to pay their respects, officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints estimated.
In a solemn moment, a black hearse pulled into the Conference Center without fanfare just before 6 a.m. Thursday.
Church employees, their families, and missionaries had lined up by 6:30 a.m.
President Monson laid in repose in the Hall of Prophets on the third floor of the Conference Center. The hall also featured bronze busts of each of the church's presidents and Thursday included floral tributes to President Monson, as well.
Guests passed through security screening as they enter the Conference Center through the west doors. Depending on the length of the line, they continued to a large auditorium and then were escorted on escalators to the third floor.
Some of those who attended the viewing Thursday morning said they felt compelled to bring their families to honor a man who spent his life serving others.
"I just wanted my children to know the importance of our prophet, and how much we loved Thomas S. Monson," said Jennifer Robinson. "He's been the prophet I've connected with so much and I just wanted them to feel of his spirit and know that things go on and we'll see him again someday."
"We went to President Hinckley's viewing when he passed away and I decided I would never miss another viewing. It was really powerful and I wanted my kids to feel it," said Whitney Permann, who drove with her family from Rockland, Idaho, to attend the viewing.
Another attendee, Spencer McBride, said, "President Monson has been a religious figure in my life since I was a child, (I) grew up watching him speak in General Conference. And so I feel that even though I've never met him, he has this important lasting role in my growth and development as a person."
President Monson died Jan. 2 at the age of 90. He leaves behind a legacy of love after a lifetime of service, and as the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Tributes to President Monson have poured in from around the world since his death.
President Monson's funeral will be Friday at 12 p.m. at the Conference Center. It will be open to the public ages 8 and older. No tickets are required. Overflow seating will be available in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, Assembly Hall and Conference Center Theater.
Contributing: Sam Penrod and Shara Park, KSL TV