A short while ago we attended the funeral service for our good friend, Lloyd Rasmussen. The funeral service was a wonderful celebration of the life of a very good man. Elder Legrand Richards, in speaking at the funeral service of a dear friend, said, "There is nothing that makes for a good funeral like the life of a good man." This was certainly the case with Lloyd. Not only was he our friend but he was the friend of many other people as well.
We first met Lloyd when we moved to Orange County in 1975. He was then serving as our stake president and in 1976 he called me as a counselor to Bishop Tom Murray, the first bishop of the newly formed Tustin Fourth Ward. Having served as a bishop and then as a stake president, Lloyd was called as a regional representative, in which calling he served for about eight years. Later he would be called to serve as president of the newly organized Eugene, Oregon Mission and then eventually as a counselor in the Temple presidency of the Newport Beach Temple.
While he was a Regional Representative, my assignment with the Church Educational System was to coordinate educational matters in Orange County with Lloyd. I met with him frequently, usually in his New York Life Insurance office, and always left having been taught something significant. In one meeting I revealed to him I was writing my dissertation for my doctor's degree in education at USC. He looked at me and said, "Jack, you and I potentially have the same problem." I was shocked and couldn't imagine what that potential problem we both shared could possibly be. He went on to tell me that when he went to BYU where he played varsity basketball, he had one desire and that was to get his degree as quickly as possible and then get out into the world and make as much money as he could. On the other hand, he could tell that I enjoyed education, study, gaining knowledge and was not that concerned about making money. "My money for me and your education and knowledge for you," he said "could be potential stumbling blocks. Let's agree to never let my money or your knowledge and education come between us and the Lord."
I was never smart enough to gain enough knowledge to become dangerous, but Lloyd certainly lived up to his part of the bargain. He was very successful in the insurance business and the investments he made, but none of that ever got between him and the Lord, as far as I could ever see.
During another visit he said, "Jack, how is Zion to be established in these last days?" His question caught me off guard and I'm afraid my answer was not very cogent. He finally said, "Let me tell you how Zion will come about. We must all work hard, become productive, create a surplus of money, or time, or talent, and then develop the quality of charity to the point that we willingly give our surplus to the Lord to bless the lives of others." He told me that about 30 years ago; I have never forgotten it, and to me it captures the essence of the life of Lloyd Rasmussen.
Lloyd Rasmussen was a big man in many ways -- physically, mentally, and spiritually. To me his greatest quality however, was the compassion and kind things he did for others in need, very quietly behind the scenes, and out of the spotlight.
About a month after my accident Lloyd walked into my room in the spinal cord injury unit at Rancho los Amigos Rehabilitation Hospital along with Dave Parker. While serving as a bishop, Dave had finally won a battle with cancer and Lloyd thought it would be good for both of us to meet each other. I think it was, at least for me. That visit was the first of a number of subsequent visits Lloyd had with Jo Anne and me over the years.
I always signed up for every insurance policy offered by CES and because of a 24 hour death and dismemberment policy I had, having lost the use of all four limbs, we received a generous settlement from our insurance company. Lloyd, and his good friend and partner DeMar Baron, gave us some wise counsel at that time regarding how to best use the insurance settlement. With the insurance money, along with our retirement/disability income and Social Security, it made it possible for Jo Anne to remain at home, never needing to work outside of the home or worry about finances, and enabled her to devote her time to raising the three younger children, who were still at home and taking care of me, which is a full-time job in and of itself. She has also maintained the house, the lawns, and our van. I hate to admit it, but since she took over, everything looks a lot better than when I was in charge. How can that possibly be?
We shudder to think what our post accident life may have been had Lloyd and DeMar not taken an interest in our situation and blessed us with their wise counsel, love and support.
We felt sorrow when we heard of the passing of one who had been such a blessing in our lives. We know that tears were shed by his beloved wife and family members and others as well, and appropriately so, for as the Scripture says, "Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die... [D&C 42:45] But then the Lord puts death into proper perspective by saying, "And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them..." [D&C 42:46] I believe that Lloyd died in the Lord and it was sweet unto him.
Lloyd passed away at the beginning of the Christmas season. Christmas is a special and a wonderful time of the year. I love everything about Christmas -- the food, the parties, the family gatherings, the music and lights and special decorations. For many years my favorite decoration was a three letter word made out of a kind of felt material of green, red, and white. For years it was prominently displayed on a wall in our dining room. It began to look a bit worn out, and since the children have left home, Jo Anne doesn't decorate quite as much as she used to. For the last couple of years I haven't seen my favorite decoration hanging on the wall. It might be there, but I can barely see the wall so I just don't know. I will have to ask Jo Anne. To me that three letter word captured and captures the essence of Christmas and the Christ spirit. In case you haven't figured it out already, the word is "JOY." If you were to go to the topical guide and look up all the references for the word "joy," you would find that, in almost every instance, it has something to do with Christ, his birth, and his mission and atoning sacrifice. The most famous example of course is the declaration of the angel to the shepherds that night of nights, "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great JOY, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior , which is Christ the Lord." [Luke 2:10-11, emphasis added]
A young prophet who would, in a few short years, face a martyr's death at age 38, was taught a significant lesson about joy by the Lord, "[Joseph] fear not even unto death, for in this world your joy is not full but in me your joy is full." [D&C 101:36]
And so we miss Lloyd and many other wonderful close friends and family members that have temporarily left us, but are comforted in knowing that, as wonderful as mortality is, it is only through Christ and his infinite love and atonement that any of us will ever be able to experience a "fullness of joy."
It has been said that birth is the beginning of a terminal disease. Death is as inevitable as birth and we will all exit mortality through that door. Because of Christ and his love for each one of us; however, we need not fear death or be heart broken and filled with despair at the temporary separation from a loved one. Surely, in this life our joy is not full, but in Christ it is! I pray that the joy that is HIM will fill our hearts at this special time of the year and always.
As we follow his example and become his true disciples, loving others as he has loved us, surely the day will come that he will say to each one of us, "...Well done, thou good and faithful servant : enter thou into the JOY of thy lord." [Matthew 25:21]