This is the wonderful talk that Joe gave at the services:
Good afternoon. When Keri asked me to speak today, she mentioned that she would like me to say something about the things CJ loved most. Trying to describe what anybody loves most in a few short words is difficult. Trying to do so with CJ, however, is an almost herculean challenge. He loved so much.
CJ loved sports. He was a talented golfer, a devoted fan of the Utah Jazz, and a fierce competitor. If any of you have doubts, I’ll show you the scar in my shoulder where CJ broke off his front tooth during a one-on-one basketball game. CJ loved to travel. In recent years he has canvassed Europe and the United States for historical sites, museums, sporting venues, and beautiful scenery. CJ loved his job at Fidelity. He loved to study finance and economics. He loved reading classic American literature. He loved to eat really good food. He loved movies and Broadway shows. He had an unusual affinity for clean sheets. He loved to laugh. He just loved so much.
As I have thought about CJ over the past two weeks, though, I am convinced there are five things he loved more than the rest. CJ loved missionary work and the Temple; he loved his friends and family; and, above all, he loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
First, CJ loved missionary work.
The two years he spent as a full-time missionary in Leeds, England meant the world to him. He spoke of the lessons he learned, his companions, his two mission presidents, and the people he served so frequently that many of us began to feel like we had served in the England, Leeds Mission, too.
But, CJ’s love of missionary work did not end when he returned from Leeds. While serving on the Institute Council at UVU, for example, CJ frequently went out with the missionaries to teach their investigators. While we were on trips together, somehow CJ always ended up having profound spiritual conversations with total strangers, and several of those conversations led to baptism. He was always looking for opportunities to invite others to come unto Christ, especially his friends and family. And one of the things I loved most about him was that when he made those often informal invitations, he expressed so much confidence in us that we found him hard to refuse. He just made us all want to be better.
Second, CJ loved the Temple.
After he received his endowment, CJ returned to the Temple often and encouraged others to do so as well. He especially loved the Salt Lake Temple, where he spent countless hours performing sacred ordinances, studying the Book of Mormon, and even volunteering to clean the building with Keri. It was no accident that he eventually bought a condo just up the street from the Temple on First Avenue in Salt Lake City and that his Facebook profile picture shows him heading toward the Temple. The Temple was a source of strength and revelation for CJ, a refuge from the world.
Whenever we went on trips, CJ would insist on visiting the Temple. One of these trips seems particularly significant to me now. While we were in Copenhagen, CJ planned for us to read the Book of Mormon on the steps of the Temple every night since we hadn’t brought our clothes and therefore couldn’t do a session. While we were reading, the front door opened, and a man stuck his head out and invited us in. Since we hadn’t brought our Temple clothes, the Temple President invited us to do initiatories the next morning. When we returned to the Temple, a room full of Temple workers was waiting for us as we came through the front doors. They all knew our names, and they were so excited to welcome us to the House of the Lord. Since then, CJ and I have talked many times about how that experience gave us a flavor for what it will be like to return to our Eternal Home. It was pure joy. Thanks to CJ, many of us have had similar sacred experiences in the Temple.
Of course, one of the primary reasons that CJ loved the Temple was because he loved his Temple covenants, especially his sealing to Keri. During their sealing, the sealer promised CJ and Keri that their marriage would sustain them through this mortal life and in their eternal lives hereafter. Keri, I hope that you will always remember the scripture found in Ecclesiastes 3:14, which reads “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever.” Because you and CJ were sealed by the Holy Priesthood in the House of the Lord, your marriage is eternal.
Third, CJ loved his friends. And he had many of them.
CJ was able to relate to many different types of people, and he had an extraordinary ability to make others feel good about themselves. Although he was always a busy guy, he made time for people. As a group of us were preparing for our missions, CJ would organize a full day each week to keep us on track. First he would take us to the Temple to do a session. Then, he’d plan breakfast, a round of golf, lunch, a movie, dinner, and finally, a mission prep class at institute. After his mission, he played a lot of golf with his neighborhood buddies and took some memorable trips. He visited people when they needed him, and he took the time to call friends who were struggling to tell them that he was proud of their progress. No wonder there are so many people here today to celebrate his life. We all loved him too.
Fourth, CJ loved his family.
He loved being with his siblings and their children, whether they were playing games outside, watching the Jazz, or just hanging out. He often told me that he would do whatever it took to be the favorite uncle—it was obviously a matter of pride.
As the youngest, CJ had a special relationship with his mother, Jean. For a few years, it was just the two of them, and Jean really was everything to CJ. He frequently boasted that he had the world’s best mom, and he always looked for souvenir spoons to add to her collection. I know their trip through England together after his mission was one of the highlights of both of their lives.
Most of all, though, CJ loved Keri. Ever since they started dating, these two have lived for one another. One of my favorite CJ and Keri memories was a night at Gurus we spent together singing Karaoke when they were dating. After anxiously flipping through the song book, Keri eventually settled on an Alicia Keys song with a huge opening note. Undaunted, she got up there and belted out as much as she could through her laughter as CJ shouted “that’s the future mother of my children, everybody!” Then, CJ got up and serenaded Keri with his favorite Boys II Men classic. It was like they were the only two people in the universe. That night, I changed Keri’s name in my phone from Keri Miller to Keri Rhineer. It was just so obviously the perfect fit.
Of course, Keri and the Rhineer and Miller families will always feel CJ’s absence. But, as Elder Worthlin taught, “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude. One of the blessings of the gospel is the knowledge that when the curtain of death signals the end of our mortal lives, life will continue on the other side of the veil. There we will be given new opportunities. Not even death can take from us the eternal blessings promised by a loving Heavenly Father.”
Fifth, CJ loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To really know CJ, you have to understand how he felt about the Savior. CJ hungered and thirsted after righteousness. He treasured the words of the Book of Mormon and pondered the teachings of modern day prophets. And as all of you know, the gospel was so much more to him than academic or cultural; it was the foundation of his character, and it permeated all of his relationships. CJ loved the Lord, and because he loved the Lord, he kept His commandments. It has been an enormous source of peace for me to know that CJ had a testimony of the Restored Gospel, and that he did everything he could to live it. I know that CJ knew that Christ is the resurrection and the life. I know that CJ knew that everything that is heartbreaking in this world can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We just need to do our part, and I’m so grateful that CJ has done his.
For all of us, so many of the things that we love most will never be the same without CJ. And that’s okay. As Elder Nelson has taught: “Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” (D&C 42:45.) . . . The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.” As I have thought about what CJ would want us to take away from his passing, however, I know he would want to be an enriching, motivating influence for good in our lives rather than a source of continual sorrow. I think CJ would want each of us to identify the things we love most and to commit ourselves to love them with an intensity that cannot be misunderstood.
As many of you know, CJ’s father, John, passed away unexpectedly while CJ was on his mission. Shortly after he learned about his father, CJ sent me a letter that illustrates just who he was. He wrote: “It's been a bit rough for me emotionally lately. . . . Satan is working hard on me. But I feel so much help from my Father in Heaven. The veil is thin at times, and the heavens are close. I know how much the Lord needs my mission. How much I need it. Not just working. But giving my whole soul. It's hard, but it feels so good. I love it here. Elder Rhineer” It is my prayer that we will each follow CJ’s example by giving our whole souls to the relationships, principles, and experiences that define our mortal missions.