From Gary Pomeroy: I served in the Italy North Mission from 1971 through 1973. In the summer and fall of 1972 I was serving in Milan, which was also the mission headquarters.
President Harold B. Lee had been scheduled to attend the first joint mission Youth Conference ever held in Italy. (In July 1971 the Italian mission was divided into two missions, the Italy North Mission with headquarters in Milan, and the Italy South Mission with headquarters in Rome.) When President Joseph Fielding Smith passed away in July 1972, there was some thought that President Lee would not be able to attend since we would be busy with his duties as the new President of the Church. However, he had promised to attend and attend he did. (Incidentally, he was the first sitting President of the Church to visit Italy since Peter the Apostle was in Rome.)
President Lee toured Italy and he held a public meeting in Milan one evening, that I was privileged to attend. The following morning we had a mission conference in Milan with all the missionaries in the Italy North Mission. President Lee was accompanied by his wife, Fern Tanner Lee, and also Elder Gordon B. Hinckley.
After President Hinckley said a few words, President Lee began to speak to us. I was sitting near the back of the room with Elder Shaffer from Tuttle, Idaho. About half way through President Lee's talk, two elders came in and tapped us on the shoulder and told me and Elder Shaffer that it was our turn to go out and watch President Jorgensen's car (our mission president's car) to make sure it did not get blocked in or otherwise impeded.
The car was parked partially on the sidewalk (which was standard fare for parking in Italy) and President Lee and his wife were on a tight schedule. They wanted to view Leonardo Da Vinci's fresco of the Last Supper, which was all the way across town, and then had to double back to get to the airport in time for their flight back to the United States. The Lees has a copy of the Last Supper in their home and it was one of their favorites. Incidentally, it is a magnificent painting, full of not only artistic ability but also has a deep spiritual aspect.
Anyway, Elder Shaffer and I were grousing about "watching the car", a duty that made us miss half of President Lee's talk. I said that at least we will be able to shake President Lee's hand when they come out.
About fifteen minutes or so later, we saw the group exiting the building where the conference was held and they came across the street. President Lee walked by us, and thanked us as he passed. Sister Lee, however, came over to us, and thanked us each personally, shook our hands, and thanked us again. President Lee said something to the effect like we need to hurry, Fern, and she got in the car and they drove off.
It was good to see the President of the Church had personal interests and the brief glimpse of the dynamic between him and his wife, the same dynamic that existed between my parents. I developed a greater appreciation for President Lee and his family at that time as they were doing a great work, but they were also human, and it makes them greater in my mind to understand that they truly struggled day to day to live the gospel and follow the Lord. They had a greater spiritual development, but none the less they were subject to the same pains and time constraints as we are. That they accomplished so much is a testimony to their dedication and love of the Lord and us.