During funeral services on what would have been his 36th birthday, Lt. Fred House was remembered for his paradoxical life - a karate expert who was comfortable on his hands and knees with young children in the ward nursery.
House, commander of the K-9 unit at Utah State Prison, was killed Jan. 28 in the gunfire that ended a 13-day confrontation between law officers and the family of slain polygamist John Singer. (See Church News, Jan. 30.)A much-respected officer, who between shifts at the Singer compound in Marion, Utah, found some free early morning hours to build a Pinewood Derby car for his son, was eulogized as "a man of steel and a man of velvet."
The funeral at the Orem Utah Windsor Stake Center drew more than 1,500 people, including many hundreds of law enforcement officers - some from as far away as Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Alabama and Calgary, Alberta. All wore their police badges covered with a shroud - black band or strip of ribbon - in honor of their fallen comrade. House was a peace officer of the Utah Department of Corrections Law Enforcement Bureau.
Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the Utah South Area read a letter of sympathy and condolences from the First Presidency to House's widow, Ann, and her three children - Seth, 8; Janneke, 5; and Christine, 2.
Elder Featherstone acknowledged House's heroic sacrifice by reciting the third verse of "America the Beautiful" - "Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!"
Several other speakers preceeding Elder Featherstone paid tribute to House by citing John 15:13 - "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Bishop Wayne T. Watson of the Orem 99th Ward labeled House's service as that of a patriot but added that his family was as much a priority as his work. "Fred was a protector of liberty, of freedom and of peace, but behind this was a conviction of self, family, friends and fellow workers. . . . He took time for the important things in his life, regardless of how busy he was."
Bishop Watson also reviewed the gospel principles of death and resurrection with House's family during the services. Reminding the congregation that House's father had died while trying to help save a drowning victim, Bishop Watson said "Fred is with his father right now."
During a graveside service at the Orem City Cemetery, "Amazing Grace" was played on the bagpipes, a squad of riflemen fired a 21-gun salute, and a sole bugler shared a solemn farewell by playing "Taps."
Utah Gov. Norman H. Bangerter posthumously bestowed House with the Medal of Honor - the highest award given by the state. In addition to the medal and a small plaque, the governor also presented Ann House with the U.S. flag that had draped her husband's casket during the day's services.