Today marks 2 years to the day since my dad passed away.
Dad was an amazing man, and the last 24 months without him have been more of a challenge than I would have ever expected.
Today I wanted to share the eulogy that mom, brother and I wrote in honor of dad after his passing.
The recording of Dad’s Memorial Service is below, and the reading of the eulogy starts at timestamp 55:50.
Eulogy for Jerry Müller
In 1982 when Jerry graduated from Bible College, the last verse from Isaiah 40 was what he had written in his yearbook. Over the course of the last 6 years, in the midst of all the health struggles and challenges he walked through, that verse and the 3 preceding it proved themselves to be true and powerful in his life: superscript 29 in markdown 29
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives strength to the weary,
And to the one who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
~ Isaiah 40
Jerry Müller passed away on December 19, 2021 from complications due to the myelofibrosis blood cancer, which he was diagnosed with in November 2017.
Who was Jerry?
Jerry was a man unlike any other. It’s difficult to sum him up in only a few words.
To start with, he was strong. Thinking back on his life, we don’t know if we’ve met someone stronger and more able than him. Not simply physical strength — though he was indeed incredibly strong physically — but even more so mentally and emotionally. Through the course of the years that he was fighting cancer, he dealt with excruciating pain throughout his body due to the ways the myelofibrosis cancer attacked his bones and marrow. However, in the midst of that excruciating pain, we never once heard him complain. His endurance and capacity to keep going and push through was beyond what any of us have ever seen.
Throughout his life, he taught us to endure, to push through the difficult things, and to keep going without complaining, even when it’s hard. We’ll always remember the motto he taught us and regularly reminded us: “Always do everything to the best of your ability.”
Another characteristic about dad was how exceptionally perceptive and intelligent he was. There never was a problem or a question that he couldn’t solve. His attention to detail in projects he was working on was unparalleled. And the sheer number of things he knew and remembered was sometimes dizzying. And he never stopped learning. After he passed away, we were working through some of his files in the filing cabinet. We were stunned when we found a several-centimeters-thick folder with all of his trainings, certifications, and achievements from multiple fields and disciplines. When he studied Electrical Engineering Technology at SIAST in Moose Jaw in the early 90’s, he ended up graduating with honors. But, him being as extraordinarily humble as he was, it took many years after his time in SIAST before he told even his wife that, not only did he graduate with honors, but he actually achieved the highest grades in history in some of his classes, including getting a 100% average over all of the three years of calculus courses he took for his program!
With us boys being homeschooled, Dad was more intricately involved in our education than most fathers ever get to be. Because of that, he was able to teach us from a young age to love learning. If Josh was bored during a slow sermon at church, instead of coloring pages or toys, dad gave him math problems, and taught him how to solve them… Consequently, Josh ended up being able to multiply two 4 digit numbers before he ever even entered Grade 1.
Stephen also remembers how dad would tell us stories from the Bible. Dad was a great storyteller, and the lively and compelling way he portrayed stories from scripture taught us from a young age to appreciate good communication and to love the Bible. He loved preaching and teaching, spending countless hours studying and preparing every time he would share, always wanting the things he taught to be conveyed with excellence.
He shaped our walk with Jesus from a very young age. He was the one who prayed with Stephen to accept Jesus into his heart when was a child.
Dad also taught us how to memorize. Together we memorized passages of scripture, the ten commandments, the Greek and Hebrew alphabets, and more. Many of these things we memorized together with dad we can still recite even to this day.
Dad also had a servant’s heart. He preferred to stay out of the spotlight, and instead to serve from behind the scenes whenever he could. He was generous with both his time and his money. He loved others by serving them. One of his favorite memories that he regularly enjoyed telling us stories about was his missions trip to Haiti in 1989, where he spent several weeks helping with construction of buildings for local ministries. We also remember several times when we were traveling as a family, and ended up meeting people who were going through rough times. After getting to know them a bit, dad would take some time to pray and convene with mom. In several instances, dad ended up giving several hundred dollars to these people we had just met. He knew Holy Spirit wanted to bless them through us, so Jerry was faithful, and gave.
It is important to note, too, that his generosity didn’t just show itself in a few specific instances in his life, but were foundational to who he was. It was in spiritual DNA. Years ago, Jerry was going through some events that he would have described as the hardest season in his life. Both his health and finances were more in question than they’d ever been before. We’ll never forget how he dealt with it: Instead of worrying and fretting about it, he decided to give. He and mom made several large donations to a few ministries and missions programs they knew of. He said, “It’s only with God’s help that we will get through this, so we need to put our trust in Him.” Giving to God’s work in the midst of the challenges was Dad’s way of putting that trust into action. Jerry taught us to give of ourselves, to give our time, and give financially, even when it was hard or didn’t make sense.
Another iconic characteristic about dad was how vivaciously funny he could be. Those who knew Jerry well would agree that his ability to make people laugh was uncontested. On a regular basis, we would quite literally laugh until we cried from jokes or stories he would tell. And he loved pranks. Many of his nieces and nephews remember well dad pranking them by scaring them with his gorilla mask. Other times, when one of us were particularly enthralled in some project or watching some show, he would shock us out of our unnecessary seriousness by blowing a hand-held air horn he had bought, bringing forth terrified screams and deep belly laughs from us all [BLOW AIR HORN 🎺]. Sometimes his jokes could be a bit much, but he would always tell us, “I only tease the people I love”. He taught us the importance of laughter, and how to find creative ways to bring joy.
Dad had so many passions. He loved woodworking and carpentry, having built more shelves, stands, stools, and sheds than any of us could count. He loved cooking and trying new recipes. The last few years, he had gotten especially good at making smoked foods. His homemade smoked-cheese was like nothing you’ve ever tasted. He loved outdoor activities like golfing and fishing. He loved gardening. Many around Lanigan will remember seeing him faithfully watering the lawn and tending the garden over the years. Several kids from around the community came and helped him with watering the grass over the last couple years. They grew to love dad, eventually starting to endearingly refer to him as their “Grandpa” across from the park.
Jerry also loved music. He loved both listening to music, and making it. Over the years, he had been involved in many choirs and worship teams. His powerful bass voice brought a new life and vigor to whatever songs were being sung. He spent time learning both the guitar and the banjo over the years, which ended up being foundational for Josh and Stephen’s love of playing music. And dad especially loved listening to good music. ’80s Christian rock — the likes of Larry Norman, Stryper, Petra, and more — made regular appearances in our house through the decades. His favorite by far, however, was Southern Gospel Music. The playlist you heard walking in was a selection of some of his favorite songs.
One iconic line that he especially loved was from Triumphant Quartet’s song Going There It seems especially poignant today:
This world is not my home, I′m a stranger in this life
I know I don’t belong so I have fixed my eyes On that Heavenly prize
When the race is finely run, I will rest at Jesus′ feet
When the Savior says ’Well done′, what a sound that will be
Won’t you come and go with me
Jerry was well loved by family, friends, and acquaintances alike.
To try to boil him down to just a few words fails our capacity.
He wasn’t just strong, brilliant, generous and funny.
He was so much more that we don’t even have space, time, or verbal capacity for.
He was committed and consistent.
He was faithful and kind.
He was joyous and funny.
He was honorable and unshaken.
He imparted so many of these characteristics to us, which we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.
The strongest aspects of dad’s character are the things that have shaped our lives the most.
His legacy lives on because of the deposit he left in each of us
Though we are heartbroken and miss him tremendously, we can rejoice in knowing that he is in the presence of Jesus, where there is no pain. Jerry is now walking in the fullness of eternal life. This same eternal life is promised to each of us who have placed our hope in Jesus Christ.