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Elder Lybbert’s life a ‘model of diligence’

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Praised by a member of the First Presidency as a man who served "with his eye fixed on eternal glory" whom nothing could dissuade, Elder Merlin R. Lybbert, former member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, was laid to rest July 10.

President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke at the funeral of Elder Lybbert, who died July 6, 2001, following a brief illness.

Elder Lybbert, 75, served in the quorum from April 1989 to October 1994. Thereafter, he was president of the Cardston Alberta Temple until 1997, with his wife, Nola Cahoon Lybbert, serving as temple matron.

In addition to President Monson, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Area Authority Seventy and a son-in-law to Elder Lybbert, spoke at the service in the Salt Lake Valley View Stake Center, as did a son, Clark M. Lybbert. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve attended the service, as did several current and former members of the Quorums of the Seventy.

During his address, President Monson read a First Presidency letter to Sister Lybbert, which stated in part: "Elder Lybbert's life was a model of diligence and hard work. His example of devotion as a husband, father and stalwart servant of the Lord influenced the lives of loved ones and all with whom he came in contact. . . . We appreciate his dedicated and significant service in the Church, most particularly as a missionary, bishop, high councilor, stake president, regional representative, member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and as temple president with you as matron by his side."

In remarks prior to reading the letter, President Monson said, "If I were selecting someone to lead a [covered wagon] caravan across the plains from Winter Quarters, Merlin would be among those I'd call, because he would have his eye fixed on eternal glory and nothing could dissuade him. And that's how he served."

He said that Elder Lybbert loved the stake center and would be happy that his funeral service was being held there. President Monson said he remembered when ground was broken for the building, as he lived in that stake at the time. "I note the clean lines of this building: . . .no hidden corners, no unseen crevices, no secret places — straight lines. And that's Merlin Lybbert: no secret agenda, no hidden corners, no part of his life that couldn't be open to inspection by one and all."

President Monson praised the pioneering spirit of western Canadians and indicated that Elder and Sister Lybbert, who come from western Canada, exemplify that spirit.

"I'm glad Merlin's middle name is Rex," he said. "That means 'king.' " He recalled a line from 'The King and I' in which the school teacher, Anna, says, in response to a question from her son regarding whether the king of Siam who had just died was a good king: 'No man is as good a man as he could have been, but this one really tried.'

"So, Rex, that middle name of Merlin Lybbert, really tried. And he succeeded wonderfully well. Why? Because he knew the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Elder Renlund told of Elder Lybbert's teaching to family members just five days before he died. On that occasion, Elder Lybbert cited Doctrine and Covenants 42:45-46, which contrasts the sweetness experienced by those who die in the Lord with the bitterness experienced by those who do not. Before citing the scripture, Elder Lybbert posed the question, "What difference does it make?" Then, after reading the verses, he declared, "That's what difference it makes."

Clark Lybbert, the son, recalled that while his parents served in their positions in the Cardston Alberta Temple, his father occasionally told temple patrons: "Your first temple session gets you into the temple; your second session gets the temple into you." Also, he said his mother was fond of putting a different spin on the initials CTR that are well-known in the Latter-day Saint culture: One meaning for the initials, she would say, is "Current Temple Recommend." And in reverse, she said, they could stand for "Remember the Covenants."

Elder and Sister Lybbert married in the Cardston Alberta Temple on May 26, 1949; they had six children, 16 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.