We gather today to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Louis Eldon Yard. We seek to comfort each other in our loss and encourage each other in our faith.
To that end, listen to these words from the Word of God,
Psalm 23 (LB) Because the Lord is my Shepherd I have everything that I need. He lets me rest in meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He restores my failing health. He helps me do what honors Him the most. Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.
You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcomed me as your special guest; blessings overflow! Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.
In the book of Habakkuk the prophet expresses a faith which should be a model of our own:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength’ he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on to the heights.
Jesus has said to us: Come unto me all ye that are weary and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Will you pray with me?
Our Father, it has been an exhausting and difficult week. Our hearts feel like they have been torn and bruised. We need your strength and your comfort this morning.
Father, we ask that you guide us in our time this morning. As we reflect this morning, help us to see the rich blessing you have given us through Eldon Yard. As we think together, remind us of the faith that takes the despair out of this day. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Louis Eldon Yard was born on March 23, 1923 in Macomb Illinois the son of B. Louis and Lura Eva Sweasy Yard. He was a 1941 graduate of Colchester High School. He used to have to walk four miles to school. He told of times when the riverbed would flood and he would have to cross hand over hand on the cable above the river.
One day a skunk followed on his heels all the way home. Rather than panic he just kept walking.
Eldon served his country in the South Pacific during World War II. He spent his time primarily in engineering areas using heavy machinery. One of his favorite memories was being able to sit take the controls of a bomber.
Eldon married Evelyn I. Wetzel on September 3, 1950 in Fountain Green, Illinois. They met at a dance during a Grand March. Once they met they fell in love and were married a year later. They had two children, Kent and Karl.
For 35 years Mr. Yard was an operating engineer. He operated all kinds of heavy machinery. He always marveled at what “oil under pressure” could do. He was like a musician in working any kind of big machinery. He could make those machines do whatever he wanted them to do.
He also farmed near LaHarpe. He enjoyed his farm work. He was especially proud when he got his first new Duetz Tractor. Farming was hard work but also a joy to him. (Except maybe for the pigs).
He was a member of the Operating Engineers Union of Rock Island, IL. The LaHarpe American Legion Post #301, and a proud member of the LaHarpe Masonic Lodge #195 A.F. & A.M., the Quincy Consistory, Peoria Shrine. He was also an active member of the Union Church of LaHarpe.
Louis Eldon Yard died on Wednesday, April 28, 1999 at Memorial Hospital in Carthage Illinois. He was 76 years old.
He is survived by;
• His wife, Evelyn
• His son and daughter-in-law, Karl and Leana Yard of LaHarpe
• 5 Grandchildren, Amy Hager, Shane, Jarrid, Landon and Colby Yard
• 2 Step Grandchildren, Michelle and Teresa Troute
• 2 great grandsons, Matthew and Jonathon Hager
• 2 sisters: Mrs. Paul (Caroline) Humkey of Camp Point, IL. And Mrs. Fred (Dorothy) Riebling (REE-BLING) of Industry, IL.
• And several nieces and nephews
He is preceded in death by one son, Kent Yard, and his parents.
Eldon Yard was a unique man. He was big and strong and richly talented.
He was a deliberate man. He was so “laid-back” that his sisters called him “lightening”. When someone would get all excited about something he would often say, “Now, don’t get your bowels in an uproar!.”
But don’t misunderstand. It wasn’t that Eldon was lazy. If you worked with Eldon you had to really be on your toes to keep up with him. He never did anything half-way. He worked hard and was always working at or on something. He was laid-back in the sense that he believed you needed to enjoy the journey. He didn’t see any sense to getting all riled up about things.
Once a goat jumped up on his car and Eldon cleared him off with one punch! He didn’t get excited . . . he just dealt with the issue.
Eldon was a man of principle. He taught his children to respect their elders. Eldon didn’t have to do a lot of correcting of his children. He just had to give them “a look” and would get the behavior he desired.
Eldon believed any job worth doing was worth doing right. It didn’t matter whether you were building a fence on the road or far back in the timber . . .it should be done correctly and to the best of your ability. You didn’t do it right for show . . . you did it right because you took pride in your work.
Eldon was talented in so many areas. He was a skilled woodworker. He could make most anything. He helped his boys build their homes and seemed to always be working on some project. His biggest problem was that he was a perfectionist. He demanded a lot from himself.
He believed that your tools should be taken care of. They should be cleaned when you were finished and put back where they belonged. He would say, “Don’t put it down . . . put it where it belongs.”
He was a man who was interested in all things mechanical. He loved learning about trains. And he always wanted to be a pilot. He began taking some lessons but had to give them up because of the cost. He still enjoyed going to air shows and marveling at the things technology could accomplish.
He loved music. He played the guitar, the banjo and the piano. He made and played his own dulcimer. He had big hands but was able to use them in delicate ways. He even enjoyed singing. He used to love singing “Three Little Fish-ees” to the kids. But his favorite song of all was “How Great Thou Art”
He was a playful man. Eldon had a great sense of humor. He was always teasing those around him. When he was younger he used to come into the room and snap a towel at his sisters. Then he would dance around like a matador. And when they brought their dates to the house he would literally deal out the bread at the dinner table . . . just to see how they would respond. It was his own little initiation.
He had nicknames for everyone. He might tease you about your hair “what happened, put your finger in a light socket?” Or after someone got a permanent he would inform them, “You stink.” On a Friday or Saturday night he would ask the kids, “Got a hot date tonight?” It seemed that nothing was off limits. When you came into the house you might be greeted by, “Whatta you want?” or “Sit down, and take a load off.”
He would always ask the waitress if she was “hurrying every chance she got”. And he loved to wake the kids up using a Kleenex or a feather to tickle your nose. At times he would jump on the bed to wake you up. He had a constant smile and at times you knew he was holding back a lot more than he was expressing.
Once he saw Jarrid getting into his Skoal but didn’t stop him. He figured the lesson would be better learned to let him go. Besides, it would be a lot more fun to watch this way. He was not disappointed.
Instead of offering you some salad, he would ask if you wanted any “silage”.
Just last week he asked me if I had anyone who was worse off than he was at present. I said, “No”. He responded with a smile, “Well I guess that means I’m at the top of the list.”
He was not above popping the clutch to see if he could knock the boys off the back of the wagon. Or pulling a prank. He loved to tell jokes and saw the funny things in life.
Eldon did not have fun to be malicious or because he didn’t see the seriousness of life. It was his way of showing his affection. It was his way of enjoying life as God had given it to him.
He was a tender man. Eldon Yard was a “gentle giant”. His boys used to race to see who could sit on dad’s lap. His grandchildren loved to sit and enjoy Grandpas arms around them. He enjoyed anytime he could visit with his family. He always wanted you to stop and visit for awhile.
He loved animals. He was especially fond of Ted and Geronimo, his dogs.
And he loved Evelyn. He enjoyed her company and encouraged her to enjoy her life. He never discouraged her from something she wanted to do but was always supportive. He was loyal and faithful as a husband. Eldon and Evelyn worked hard together.
After Kent died Eldon could always read Evelyn’s face and knew when she needed to be held in his big strong arms.
Eldon honored his wife. His children and grandchildren knew this. They knew “that if momma wasn’t happy . . .no one was going to be happy.”
In these last years the table turned and Evelyn had to take on a good deal of the care for Eldon. And she cared for him most faithfully. This should not be a surprise . . .it was the way they always functioned: “sickness and in health, better or worse.”
Eldon was a faithful man. Eldon was a faithful man. He went to church all his life. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and enjoyed the instruction and camaraderie he enjoyed there. He was always there when someone wished to have Masonic rites. At his funeral. He promoted membership in the Lodge.
Eldon enjoyed reading his Bible on the front porch and these later years enjoyed having morning devotions with Evelyn. If she was a little late in getting around he would ask, “You going to read to me today?”
He tried to instill in his children and Grandchildren the importance of trusting Christ and the importance of prayer as the anchor for any situation.
He was not a man who talked a lot about his faith. Like most of his generation, faith was something that effected the way you lived. He was less concerned about preaching and more concerned about giving you a message through the way he lived.
There are lots of other things we can say and remember. There are things that will always bring his memory to mind;
- His regular nap afer lunch. His big smile. And joyful laugh.
- There were his pet phrases, “Dad Bymet” when he was frustrated, “What’s Ailin You Boy?” when you were less than enthusiastic about a task. Or the ever popular “Aw C’mon” which could be used in a variety of settings.
- There was his love for hard candy, which he stashed everywhere he could. And there were those times of eating peanuts with Grandpa.
- There was his love for lemon ice cream, lemon cake or lemon pie. And then there were those trips to the Tastee Freeze just a half hour before dinner!
But in all these memories the thing we will miss the most is his presence. He had a way of keeping things calm and fun. And even when his health was failing him, his faith, his sense of humor, and his spirit remained strong. There are so many things that we could learn from Eldon. So many things we’ve already learned and don’t realize it:
• do it well or don’t do it at all
• put things back where you found them.
• enjoy the journey
• don’t sweat the small stuff . . .and most of it is small stuff.
• people are more important than things
• God is the anchor for the troubled times of life.
• If you want to have friends, be a friend.
• Take time to enjoy your family.
We thank God for the impact Louis Eldon Yard had on our lives.
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians he writes words appropriate for our time together,
13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
From this passage I hope you see a couple of things that are important for us today.
1. Paul tells us not to grieve like those with no hope. Now, please note. Paul is not telling us it is wrong to grieve. Grief is natural and normal. If someone means anything to us, it will hurt when we are separated from them.
What Paul is concerned about is that we not feel a sense of despair, defeat, or hopelessness in our grief. He does not want us viewing death as merely the end of a person’s existence.
But notice that Paul implies that there are people who have no basis for hope. Paul talks about “the rest of them.” They are the ones who live their lives only for themselves. These are the ones who give no real attention to the things of God. They serve him only in word . . . there is no real commitment to Him.
These people have every reason to despair at death. Their future is precariously bleak. Their hope is nonexistent. The Bible holds out no hope for those outside of the family of God.
But for those who have placed their hope of eternal life in the work of Christ . . . there is hope. For those who have stopped pretending that they are good enough, there is life beyond the grave. Paul writes,
14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
In other words, Paul urges us to remember that this life is only the prelude to life that is to come.
There are many people who feel that this notion is meaningless drivel that is made up to help us feel better. But Paul bases his words on a historical fact . . . the resurrection of Jesus. If Christ has been raised from the dead (and he has) then we know that there is life beyond the grave.
We also know that we should listen to Jesus. Anyone who has come back from the grave has a credibility we need to pay attention to. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, will live, even though he dies. Whoever lives and believes in me will never [really] die.”
Paul tells us that everyone who has a genuine faith in Jesus Christ will live beyond the grave. For the Christian, death is not the end, it is a transition.
Eldon Yard trusted Jesus Christ. He may not have been a Professor of Theology but he was a follower of the Lord. As such, he is now in the presence of that Lord. Remember what Jesus said to the thief on the cross? He said, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” The thief didn’t know a great deal. But he did know that Jesus was the one who could save him. Jesus doesn’t say, “someday” you will be with me in paradise . . . he said “Today.” Eldon Yard is with the Lord he sought to serve during his life.
You walked Eldon to the door of eternity where he was met by the hand of Jesus. Today Eldon is with his parents, Kent, Shirley and others who have gone before. But most importantly, he is with Jesus. Today the limitations have been removed, the frustrations abolished, and all he ever hoped for has been surpassed by the reality of the life he has been given.
Today we grieve . . . but not without hope. There is real loss, but there is no despair. Today we look to Jesus.
And I hope you will also look at your own life. Are you prepared for the other side of the grave? Do you know that you will live again, even if you die? If not, I urge you to find out what is needed to have this hope.
And what about the way you are living in the present. Do you see things in perspective or are you anxious about everything? Are you doing your best or are you just doing “what you have to do?” Are you enjoying the journey or enduring the journey?
You see, even in death Eldon Yard is still teaching.
Our Father, we are grateful for the life of Eldon Yard. His joy was infectious, his spirit lifted our hearts, and he was a bright spot in our lives.
Lord, we ask now that you, by your grace, receive Eldon to yourself. Receive Him as one of your own.
Lord, we also ask for ourselves. Help us to remember. Help us to remember the things Eldon taught us and the love he showed to us. Help us also in those lonely days.
Lord, we pray that you would fill the void in our lives with the comfort of your love and the power of your Spirit.
We especially pray for Evelyn. Lord, she has been such a faithful spouse. I pray that you wrap your arms around her so that she might know your peace and comfort.
Lord, we ask for your strength, your comfort and your direction and we do so in the name of Christ. Amen.