Funeral Meditation for Ellis Haines 4/1/99
We gather this morning to mourn the loss and to celebrate the life of Ellis Haines. We also gather to affirm the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
In the Bible we read these words of encouragement,
Psalm 103:13-18 (NLT) The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone–as though we had never been here. But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments.
The Apostle Paul wrote these appropriate words:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us in his presence…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
With this in mind, will you join me in prayer,
Our Father, we bow before you. In this time of numbness we acknowledge You as the one who is wise beyond our understanding.
We ask that you help us this morning. Help us to gain the perspective that only You can give us. Help us to see beyond the pain to the glory that awaits. Help us to remember the life Ellis Haines lived and to be spurred on in our own faithfulness by His example.
We ask that you help us cope with the loss that weighs our hearts down today. Draw us to yourself. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Mr. Ellis L. Haines, was born July 26, 1916 near Blandinsville, the son of Revy and Minnie Tucker Haines. Mr. Haines was a 1934 graduate of the Blandinsville High School where he played football. He made friends during those years that he kept for a lifetime. He married the love of his life, Roberta Huston on December 23, 1939. This year would have been their 60th wedding anniversary.
He owned and operated Haines Trucking in Bushnell, Illinois for 30 years. He had a great working relationship with Mormon feeds for all those years and more.
He moved to LaHarpe following his retirement in 1978. He continued to be active in farming and livestock activities even in retirement.
He was a member of the LaHarpe Masonic Lodge # 195, the Quincy Consistory, the Peoria Shrine and the LaHarpe Union Church. For many years he was a fixture each morning at the Tastee Freeze where he met with friends for coffee.
He is survived by his wife, 2 nieces, Sharon Guppie of Peoria and Carolee Sellers of Macomb, Illinois and 2 nephews, Kendall Haines of Cartersville, Georgia and Wendell Haines of Mackinaw, Illinois. As well as other family members and a host of friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and 2 brothers Von and Voyd Haines.
Ellis Haines was a nice man. He was gracious, kind, wise, and faithful. In fact, you could describe him many different ways.
Ellis was an entrepreneur. Ellis could see profit making potential in things most of us would miss. He wasn’t one who went in for “get rich quick” kinds of things . . .he felt that you gained financial security one dollar at a time.
Early in his life he would dig in the creek for duck eggs and sell them. When he used to drive a truck he would spot an old broken down bicycle and buy it for almost nothing and then fix it up and sell it for a profit.
He began his trucking company by selling his house to buy one truck and built it to12 semis, one truck at a time.
He built the original Tastee Freeze in LaHarpe. For a while he part raised Shetland ponies.
He would enjoy catching a barrel full of fish and selling some of them to others on the dock. He loved going to auctions seeking a “good deal”. And Ellis knew a good deal when he saw one.
In farming Ellis would always want to know, “if we sell now, can we make a profit?” If the answer was “yes” he would say, “You never can go wrong, making a profit.” He wasn’t concerned with making a “killing”. He knew that “slow and steady” wins the race.
To Ellis, the way to get ahead was to work hard and not waste time or money. When considering a new venture he would say he was going to “put a pencil to it”. That meant he was going to figure out whether it was financially feasible or not.
When working with others he would urge them to “run where it’s flat.” . . . in other words, let’s not waste time . . .time is money.
Even in these last years, Ellis saw potential for profit in his yard sales. He would buy low and try to sell a little higher. It was almost like a sport for him.
Ellis was thrifty. His philosophy was again simple and sound: “It’s not what you make . . . it’s what you don’t spend.”
He hated going to a sale and have somebody say, “Make me an offer”. He didn’t see any reason to pay any more than the person was willing to take. So he wanted a price tag on the item.
He loved to haggle over a price. If you were buying from Ellis and he wanted to sell he would keep after you until he found out what you were willing to pay . . .and then sell to you.
Ellis saw no reason to spend $40.00 on a hotel room is he could get one that would do the trick for $15.00. He traveled with Rick, Michael and Nathan to Black Gnat Kentucky to do business on several occasions. On one occasion Ellis was able to get a “room” for the four of them for $14.00 or so. It wasn’t nice, but Ellis figured they didn’t need nice . . .they needed adequate. This was adequate. Of course Ellis then snored so loud no one else could sleep!
The next morning (by Ellis’ definition which was before 4:00 a.m.) Ellis got the guys up to get them moving. His response to their complaint was: “we didn’t pay much for those beds, so we are not going to wear them out.”
On another occasion, Ellis was painting fence with Nathan and Jenni. He missed his step, fell, and dumped a can of white paint on his head! The kids laughed, but Ellis didn’t. He wasn’t mad at their laughter . . . he was mad because that bucket of paint didn’t come cheap!
On another occasion Ellis and his friend had a problem with the motor on their boat . . . it was locked up. They went to Wards and bought two huge wrenches and for a couple of days used lots of WD-40 and turned that motor a little each day. It took a few days but they got it working again. Ellis was thinking ahead. He had carefully covered the head of the wrenches so as not to scrape them so he could return the wrenches when he was done!
Ellis was a hard worker. Ellis worked hard all his life. He knew what it was like to be poor, so he never went in for extravagance. During the course of his life he did many things: he drove a truck delivering feed, he worked on a dairy farm, ran the trucking business, sold Shetland ponies, and worked on the farm. Ellis was not one to try to find a way to do the least he could do. He was willing to put in whatever effort was necessary to do a job right.
Ellis wasn’t much for sitting around and doing nothing. He could not understand those who waited for others to hand them something. He loved going out to the farm and tinkering.
There was always some project he could get involved in. In fact, not too many years ago he banged up his leg pretty bad when he fell off a tin roof he was trying to repair. Most people his age wouldn’t have attempted to do such a thing. To Ellis it was a job that needed to get done and he might as well get to it.
In fact, the day he died he was working cleaning up his basement.
Ellis enjoyed life. He enjoyed his trips to Florida each year. He loved fishing. He enjoyed driving fast. One time, he was in a hurry to eat and Rick was driving the car. Ellis turned to Rick and said, “Do you have any tickets? ” When he got the answer “no”, Ellis responded, “then step on it.”
Ellis loved people. He wanted to keep connected with family and friends. He would go out of his way to make contact with a friend who was sick. He worked hard to maintain connections with family and friends. Ellis admired people who were well-mannered and had a firm handshake.
He wouldn’t miss a Haines reunion every year at Father’s Day. And every year he looked forward to getting his high school classmates together for a picnic in his driveway. He’d set up the tables, put out place cards for everyone (trying to put people with those they would be most comfortable with) and then he would order the chicken for the group.
When Ellis had a get-together you always would have some games and other activities to get everyone to enjoy their time. He was quite the host.
He was proud of working with Jerald Boyd to get a reunion together in Florida in the winter of those who were from this area. He liked serving as the Master of Ceremonies. He had a wonderful and dry sense of humor.
To Ellis, the enjoyment of life was not found in things . . . but in people. When you were with him you felt you had his complete attention.
Ellis was a generous and gracious man. Ellis may have been thrifty but he was also eager to show appreciation to those who helped him.
He would invite the truck drivers over to the house each year for a big dinner. The guys would have to weigh in when they arrived and when they left to determine who ate the most!
He rewarded those who served well. He’d give them a package of meat, a new shotgun, or a nice top coat. Ellis was eager to show appreciation in very generous ways. He did not see money as something to hoard or to squander . . . but he saw it as something to invest in the people that mattered to him.
Ellis was a faithful spouse and friend. Ellis loved Roberta and visa versa. From their first meeting at an ice cream supper their love grew. They were companions, friends, lovers and pushed each other to do what they may not have done on their own.
I’ve heard that when Ellis had heart problems early on Roberta made sure he ate right and walked as he was supposed to. And when Roberta might have been tempted to give up, Ellis pushed her to keep fighting.
Ellis and Roberta were a team. Their commitment to love each other in sickness and in health was one they took seriously.
Finally, Ellis was faithful disciple Ellis Haines had a faith that was more than skin deep. He felt it was important to serve the Lord. He went to church all his life. And made a commitment to Christ early on.
He served the Lord in church and by being an honest businessman.
Ellis was often in church even when he was having trouble hearing what was said. He frequently came out of church and remarked, “I didn’t hear anything you said, but I’m sure it was good.” But to him it was not what he was getting from church that mattered . . . the issue was what he was giving. He was there to show his devotion to the Lord.
He believed God ought to get our best. Consequently, he felt it was disrespectful when people came to church in casual clothing. He also thought it was disrespectful for anyone who served during worship to be without a suit and tie. He felt that was giving God less than our best.
Ellis was not one to constantly quote the Bible to you . . . but his values (which he did feel free to share) were anchored in God’s Word.
And because of his faith, we know that Ellis is now where he always longed to be. Now he is with the Lord he served all his life. And though we are sad for our loss . . . we know that Ellis is enjoying a life that is greater than anything we can imagine. His lifetime investment of faith has resulted in eternal dividends.
And I suspect when we have the opportunity to join him in heaven we shouldn’t be surprised if we’re invited to a reunion that he’s helped organize.
* * * * * * * *
When I think about Ellis Haines and the life he has lived I am immediately led to the words of Paul at the end of his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Ellis Haines died the way he would have wanted to die . . . faithfully going about his daily chores. And today we draw comfort from the “and now . . . ” of the text. And now there is an eternal consequence of his lifetime of faithfulness. Now he enjoys the benefits of eternal life.
Ellis always believed that it was important to preach to the living at a funeral. So it is important that we learn some things from Ellis . . .
First, we should learn that life is not about what we have . . . it is who we are. Ellis, like Paul, had learned to be content in all circumstances. He didn’t need stuff to help him enjoy life. He didn’t need possessions to be happy. He didn’t work to be able to buy things . . . he worked to do something productive. He sought to honor God in his labor and in his stewardship. There is wisdom in his example.
Second, we are reminded that the greatest investment we can make in life is to invest in people. We are commanded to “love one another”. Ellis Haines gave us an example of how to do that. He made the effort to maintain family ties when others would let them die from neglect. He reached out to those who were hurting. He would think nothing of traveling a great distance to spend time with a friend he thought he wouldn’t get to see again. He sought to encourage those around him. He would spotlight your good traits and challenge you in your weaknesses. He was direct but only because he cared.
Third, we are reminded that our hope beyond this life is found only in Christ. Early on Ellis Haines realized that he was living now to live again. He recognized that this life is only a prelude to a future existence.
Ellis Haines realized that he was not good enough to go to Heaven. Ellis was a nice man . . .a really nice man, but he knew that he wasn’t the kind of man he needed to be to go to Heaven. Ellis understood that our basis for hope is found in Jesus Christ.
Ellis did not rely on his deeds . . . he relied on the deeds of Christ. He believed that Jesus died on the cross for him. He believed that Jesus really rose from the grave. Ellis trusted and built his life upon Christ. Ellis Haines is in Heaven today not because of his business sense or his good heart. He is in Heaven today because of what Christ did on his behalf.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” Ellis understood that and placed his life in the hands of the Savior.
It is times like this when we are awakened to the fact that we all need to address eternal issues. Where does your hope really lie? Ellis Haines reminds us that these are important questions . . . the most important questions. And he would tell you that you should always address essential issues first. Whether or not you are prepared for eternity is one of those essential issues.
So on Ellis’ behalf I ask, “Have you made up your mind about Jesus?” Are you still playing around with your eternal destiny? “Are you gambling that there will always be time for that kind of stuff?” Ellis would tell you that people who gamble lose in the long run. Are you gambling on eternity? Are you gambling on the odds that you will live long enough to “get around to faith” some day? If so, why?
Yes, Ellis Haines believed that a funeral service was for the living. And I suggest that even in his death, Ellis is still preaching to the living.
Will you pray with me?
Our Father, we thank you for blessing us through Ellis Haines. Help us learn from his wisdom and follow his example.
Lord, we pray this day that you would draw Roberta especially close to you. Her loss is the greatest of all. We pray that you would provide those folks who can help her and look out for her best interest as Ellis did. We pray that you would encourage her and strengthen her body and her spirit. Give her the resolve needed to go on from this day.
And Father, we pray for those who have played around in their relationship with You. Get their attention through this time of loss. Awaken them to the reality of eternity. Confront them with the necessity of a decision regarding you. Use Ellis’ life to bring these folks to you.
Our Father, we ask that you place a measure of Ellis’ spirit within us. Keep the memories of his life fresh and clear in our hearts. And then remind us that Ellis was the man he was . . . because of You. So work in our lives that might be included in the reunion that is to come . . .the reunion of your children . . in your house. . . the same reunion where we will see Ellis again.
Now may the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. May He comfort you by His Spirit, give you perspective on this day, and direction for the days ahead. Amen