Ivin Berneil Lee endured a rough last month.
On the way home from a surgery where he received a chemo port and a feeding tube, Berneil shared a memory with Kyra of attending a youth fireside in Winslow, where the cultural hall was decorated like a carnival. It was filled with all sorts of activities and games in which to participate in. Each participant was given a certain amount of tickets.
Each time you participated in an activity, you had to give a certain amount of tickets relating to the risk involved. If you won, you received back your participation fee doubled. If you lost, you paid another fee. They were told that whoever could obtain the most tickets at the end would win a big prize.
Throughout the evening, an adult leader would casually walk up to participants and tap them on the shoulder and tell them to follow them, that they needed to ask them something. Their tickets were taken and counted and noted next to their name. They were then told that their time was over; they could play no more; and they were taken to a room to wait in.
No one knew what was going on. They were actively playing games trying to win more tickets. But gradually, people noticed the crowd was getting smaller. But, they just considered it more of an opportunity for them to keep playing. At one point, the stake president came in and announced that the carnival was over and for everyone to find a leader to follow out of the cultural hall.
Again, one by one, a leader took their tickets, counted them, noted it next to their name, and took them to a room where they were to wait in.
Then, when the tickets were counted up, participants were led into the chapel to sit in an assigned area. There was the Telestial glory in the back, the Terrestrial glory in the front, and the raised area in the chapel where the choir sits, behind the bishop, was the Celestial glory.
Berneil was one who obtained the Celestial glory. He remembers feeling so happy that he received the highest reward.
The stake president then read the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30
To summarize, God has placed each one of us on this earth for the express purpose of using our talents…not for ourselves but for the glory of God. There is no one that doesn’t have talents.
Since a talent is considered the wages earned in a 20 year period, it is like He is saying that we have been given time and money to use to accomplish His will. A servant does not use his talent only for himself.
The Parable of the Talents is given by Jesus right after He talks about His second coming and that no one knows the day or the hour and so we must be using our talents to the best of our abilities as if Jesus will be returning today.
In his earthly life, Ivin Berneil Lee cleaned up his life, was re-baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints April 20 2015, and went to the temple of our Lord and received his endowments and the saving ordinances necessary to enter into the Celestial glory of our Father in Heaven May 19, 2015 of this year.
You can imagine the astonishment Berneil felt as he was told that his life was quickly coming to an end.
This is a Facebook post that Berneil posted on 10/7/2016. All of us were flabbergasted with the diagnosis of terminal stomach cancer. Less than 30 days later, with his sister by his side and his dad holding his hand, Berneil was taken to his Heavenly home.
What were some of Ivin Berneil’s talents that were taken and counted after his earthly sojourn?
One of his talent’s was found VERY early on. Ivin Berneil was born January 29, 1967 to Ivin Crone and LaPrill Turley Lee. The winter of 1967 brought one of the worst snow storms ever known to Arizona. Ivin needed to go check and feed cattle up on his family’s ranch on Porter Mountain in Lakeside, AZ. So he and LaPrill climbed into the cab of his pickup truck with Berneil on LaPrill’s lap and drove up to the ranch. The snow was 3 feet deep on the sides of the road. It was a glistening white wonderland. It was so beautiful, in fact, that Berneil sucked in air at the beauty. He quickly learned that he could make a whistling sound as he sucked in. He was quite pleased with himself and he continued trying to make this sound. Perfecting his whistle became a beloved talent to him, especially as he traveled. He whistled “O My Father” to Kyra and Darrel on a road trip to meet with doctors. This past month, when he couldn’t sleep from the pain, he would whistle church hymns. He told his niece, Shannon, that it took 9 hymns the first night for him to get to sleep. He laid and whistled several hymns to Shannon that night.
The talent that came the easiest for Berneil was the talent of observation and gathering information. He would note details in people, books, movies, the news, work, church, etc. that most people overlooked. If you ever sat talking with him about something… anything… he would tell you facts and particulars that you didn’t know. He was known at work to be a walking encyclopedia of the rules and regulations for the MOTOR VEHICLE DIVISION. He used sound judgment and expertise. They didn’t need the internet or a reference manual when Ivin Berneil was around.
Berneil remembered that it was hard for him in school to focus on what mattered. Rather, he was interested in what other people were doing. In 1st Grade, Matt Smith took an interest in helping him get caught up on his school assignments, but the teacher started noticing that they had the same mis-spellings and missed answers and they had a little conference with the teacher. He wasn’t always understood or appreciated by peers, but is beloved to those who took the time to get to know him.
Berneil had a fascination with telephones. He would walk into a room and note the phone system, how it was wired up, the jacks, and then look on the outside at the wiring too. He started collecting phones and amassed quite a few unique ones that we’ve showcased today.
Similar to his dad, who is known to be able to fix anything, Ivin Berneil could always be counted on to troubleshoot and fix any office machine and phone system at the MOTOR VEHICLE DIVISION. He could route, wire, set-up, and repair any computer workstation. He was a resource of immeasurable quantity that his team is missing greatly. It will take years for someone to measure up to the level of knowledge and service that Ivin Berneil provided.
He worked for the DMV for 20 years in which time he had the job titles of Customer Service Rep, Office Manager, and CDL Examiner in the offices of Holbrook, Winslow, Window Rock, Chinle, and most recently, split between Show Low, and Payson. He loved his job and the close relationships he fostered in all of those locations. He was known to be kind and loyal. The employees and a few customers in his division have been so kind and helpful. They gathered pictures, certificates, and wrote their memories and appreciation for Ivin and put it all together in a beautiful blue album for our family. Thank you to everyone who helped. Very thoughtful and appreciated!!!
In high school, he loved working in Joseph City’s Bill Bennett Auditorium. He got to work the lights, sound, and curtains for 3 years and said it was probably his favorite of all the jobs he ever did.
Berneil had a creative side that probably stemmed from the many hours he watched his mom decorate wedding cakes and create flower decorations. He was her loyal helper. He enjoyed photography in high school and learning how to create different lighting and aspects with the developing process. He continued with photography into college and enjoyed taking pictures of the history of Route 66. He enjoyed learning to stamp-design greeting cards. He loved when his Aunt Barbra Smith would travel to Joseph City once a month to give a hands-on class. He always had to do his own creative, original spin. We found over 200 of his handmade creations when cleaning his home this past week.
Berneil loved his nieces and nephews fiercely. His vacations centered around visiting his brother Bo, sister-in-law, Kay, and Meghan, EJ, and Kimber. They visited the coast, he played in the sand on the beach with the little people like he was 5 years old, and hiked many trails. His favorite was hiking through the Hoh Rain Forest.
Berneil loved to play games. It started with Chutes and Ladders with Mrs. Biggs across the street, Canasta at Grandpa and Grandma Turley’s, Dominoes with Minnie Bushman and the Ward widows, and his last game night was two weeks ago playing marbles with Julie Clifford, Cat Hansen, Jeff & Julie Strong, Malana Hansen, and Trina Hansen.
I don’t know whether dogs liked Berneil… or Berneil liked dogs… either way, I’m sure someone let the dogs out in heaven as soon as he arrived. There were Yogi, Bandit, Patches, Brownie, Baby, Little Bit, Slick, Blue, and Shadow. (Just some that we remembered.)
He loved the friends and family he connected with on Facebook. His life wasn’t so lonely with his connection to social media and we appreciate everyone who kept in touch with him. Steve Johnson, Berneil really looked up to you. Because of your kind example and being so nice to him, he tried to emulate that same kindness throughout his life. You were always a cherished friend.
Berneil had an affinity for the Charlie Brown and Snoopy Peanuts cartoons. He brought a clock over to put in his room when he was staying at Kyra’s house. Every hour, on the hour, it played the “Linus and Lucy” song. It was so appropriate for us to hear that music every hour that he was in our home. It wasn’t until after he passed away that we took the time to read the quote on the clock, “Life is going by too fast for me… stop the clock!” WOW! What perfect sentiment for the speedy manner in which he was taken to is heavenly home.
Over all, he was always thinking about ways to improve the lives of others. His first thoughts were always about others, never about himself. He fell in love with a bakery in Washington, called Sluys (pronounced Slies), and the last time he visited he took donuts home to his co-workers, who he considered his second family. It was probably two days before they got them, but it was the thought that counted.
Mom misses his nightly visits after work and him filling up her water glass. Often times they would sit together and watch movies or game shows. His daily presence in their home will be missed.
What we’ve shared today are a few of his talents and a small view of who he was. There is way more to him than what we summarized here.
Each one of us has our own memories. Because he took individual time with each person in his life and made each one feel important, valued, and unique.
He was Berneil. He was Ivin. He was what we needed.
All of these talents have blessed the lives of everyone here. His talents will be sorely missed on this earth, until we meet again.
Thanks to everyone… there has been so much love, help, and support given to our family at this very difficult time.