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A letter to BYU-Idaho Pres. Kim B. Clark


Dear Pres. Clark:

Sorry to hear that people are so riled up again about you. While you continue to have numerous supporters in and outside the church, these folks don’t seem happy at all, let me tell you.

They say you are misguided, that you are off your rocker. It appears a good number of people in the church think you’re intent on dragging us down with this outdated Honor Code thing at Brigham Young University-Idaho. They’re calling it mindless obedience, a well-orchestrated plan to turn us into Amish or something you dreamed up because you must be bored.

By now, you know I am referring to this post on the President of BYU-Idaho Facebook page from a few days ago. Here it is again for those who missed it.

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Here’s one example of the many of the negative responses I found about you in about 10 minutes of searching. I didn’t spend any more time because wallowing in the mud makes it tougher to get cleaned up for church.

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Surprisingly, a good number seem to be from members of the church.

The ones who raised their arms to the square and sustained Gordon B. Hinckley as prophet, seer and revelator. I only mention him because he was the one who asked you to move to Rexburg and lead BYU-Idaho. It’s as if by implication that the prophet sure messed up on this decision.

Speaking of mocking and criticism, when did it become OK for members of Christ’s church do murmur, complain and criticize about you, your policies, BYU-Idaho and what took Chick-fil-A so long to get on campus.

You’re probably the first to admit that not every decision of yours has been a good one. Even as a church institution, BYU-Idaho has problems and challenges to resolve. Still it doesn’t mean that detractors get to stand you up against the wall and make you duck a barrage of verbal dodge balls.

Maybe we should remind folks what Elder Dallin H. Oaks said about criticizing church authorities. In a 1986 address to the Latter-day Student Association in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, he said:

“Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true.”

But Pres. Clark isn’t a bishop or a stake president, so this doesn’t apply, somebody will insist. Maybe they forgot that you served as an Area Seventy for the church until you were released in May. And if Pres. Hinckley asked you to be the next president of BYU-Idaho, that’s good enough for me. I guarantee plenty of prayer and fasting went into that decision.

I’m sure you agree with Elder Oaks that Latter-day Saints don’t need to be docile or indifferent to defective policies, deficient practices, or wrongful conduct in government or in private organizations in which we have an interest. But we got to build people up and not be so quick to tear down. Whether they are the former dean of Harvard Business School or work at a local convenience store.

President David O. McKay said this about what he called “murmurers” and “faultfinders”:

“Speak not against the authorities.’ What does it mean? Be not a murmurer; that is what it means. It is one of the most poisonous things that can be introduced into the home of a Latter-day Saint—this murmuring against presidents of stakes, high councilors, Sunday School superintendents, etc. …

“Better stop murmuring and build. Remember that one of the worst means of tearing down an individual is slander. It is one of the most poisonous weapons that the evil one uses. Backbiting and evil speaking throw us into the class of malefactors rather than the class of benefactors.” (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953, pp. 142–43.)

Oh and about the dress code. I chuckle when I see the people who say obedience in small matters doesn’t lead to bigger blessings. Only because it seems so Naman of them.

I know you’re not concerned about what people think, that they’ve pegged you as a Pharisee or wouldn’t allow the Savior on campus because of his beard or sandals. But it must be comforting to be on solid gospel footing after hearing these words from Pres. Hinckley about the Honor Code at BYU in Provo. Yes, we know the Honor Codes differ some between the two schools. That’s not even the point, according to Pres. Hinckley, who gave this address at BYU while first counselor to Pres. Hunter in 1994.

“I recognize that some have strong feelings concerning standards of dress and conduct. I can only say that in every game we play, we play by the rules. I hope you will not look upon the Dress and Grooming Standards as repressive. They have been designed with another objective in mind. Our leaders have taught through the generations that “cleanliness is . . . next to godliness” (John Wesley, Sermon 93, On Dress, c. 1780). Neatness in dress, modesty in dress, cleanliness in person—are these too much to ask of a student body of this kind of young men and women who carry in their hearts a conviction that you are indeed sons and daughters of God, our Eternal Father?”

It sounds to me like the Honor Code gets us ready to enter the temple where everybody wears white. When you consider how the temple prepares us for exaltation, the dress code doesn’t seem so much about what you wear but who you are and what you can become.

I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but I used your full name in my blog post title.

As a sign of respect.

Your friend,



Can we talk about talks?


“Let me get this straight,” I said as I stared incredulously at my missionary district leader.

You want us all to bring investigators to a chapel in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where we served as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Then you want me, with my Dollar Tree Spanish,  to stand up and preach to them.

And then challenge them to be baptized THAT NIGHT?

I looked at him, looking for any sign that this was a joke.

He looked at me and just smiled.

“Sounds about right.”

That was nearly 30 years ago when I finally agreed to do this. I remember the nonstop prayers pleading for help from above, the fasting, the sleepless nights and the fear that made it impossible to concentrate on anything else.

I still remember standing outside the church that night, looking for any means of escape. A wise district leader wouldn’t let me. He talked to me and encouraged me until I walked inside the chapel.

Two hours later, as the six of us relived the event over sundaes, I couldn’t deny how good I felt. Confidence and peace had replaced extreme fear.

In an almost apologetic way, I begged forgiveness for not directly challenging investigators in attendance to be baptized.

Elder Johnson looked at me and smiled. It didn’t matter that he had almost perfect looks with perfect blond hair from California, he had the biggest heart.

Elder Henneke, you glowed up there when you were speaking. You were on fire, so full of the Spirit, he told me. Other elders nodded.

Fast forward 30 years.

Can you believe they want me to give another talk? Talks assigned to us three weeks earlier are prepared on Saturday night. More emphasis is placed on the right joke instead of the right Spirit. It is so much easier to find a conference talk to read.

Next time, it would be more truthful to end your talk, “and we read these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Before you blow off your next speaking assignment or convince yourself that you aren’t good enough, stop and consider a couple of observations.

1. Elder Dallin H. Oaks referred to sacrament meeting as the most important meeting of the church. Next to the ordinance of the sacrament, the Lord has trusted you to help change lives. When you were baptized, you promised to stand up for the Lord at all times and at all places. Loving Heavenly Father with all your heart, might, mind and strength doesn’t come with an escape clause when you get the call from the executive secretary.

2. Speaking in church can be incredibly scary. So was walking on water for Peter

You’re right. My stomach still knots up each time I am asked to speak. Maybe it’s physically impossible to get up and speak right now, for your brain will turn to mush. Remember when Peter started to walk on water before becoming afraid.

Every one of us will have our own walk-on-water moments.

Every one of us will have our own walk-on-water moments.

Every one of us will have “walk-on-water” moments, and giving a talk could be one of yours. If the Lord can help part the Red Sea, he can help you with a talk.

3. Since I’m not really a good public speaker, how do I know what jokes to use?

Oh for the love of John Bytheway, the Lord has not asked you to do stand-up comedy. He has trusted you to teach his flock through the power of the Holy Ghost. Live so you can qualify for the Holy Ghost and be willing to pay the price to receive its promptings. In an April 2011 General Conference address, Elder Jeffrey R, Holland described the process that each general authority goes through before they speak. That could be a lesson for us.

Each is to fast and pray, study and seek, start and stop and start again until he or she is confident that for this conference, at this time, his or hers is the topic the Lord wishes that speaker to present regardless of personal wishes or private preferences. Every man and woman you have heard during he past 10 hours of general conference has tried to be true to that prompting. Each has wept, worried, and earnestly sought the Lord’s direction to guide his or her thoughts and expression.

Don’t compare yourself to others, schedule sufficient time for preparation and don’t settle for reading another talk. Just do the very best you can.

Then the Spirit can work through you, even calling an audible (changing the play) when you least expect it.

It happened to me as I was sitting on the stand ready to speak one Sunday. I had studied, prayed and sought the help of the Holy Ghost.

Right before I stood up, I heard a voice as if it were speaking right next to me.

“Put away your notes.”

I looked around and I heard it again.

“Put away your notes.”

I shuffled through my papers and saved out a quote.

Everything else came from memory.

Years later, I still wonder what would have happened I had more faith, to trust completely in the Spirit to say all the words that come through me. Or to have the faith to testify and invite people to drink from the living waters.

Even if it means I have the courage to walk on water myself.




Gospel lessons for dummies



Two things you should know about the road where I live.

It’s so narrow that Amy Adams couldn’t fit through it without a pair of pilot cars and “over-sized load” signs. And if the tight fit wasn’t enough to make a new driver cry, somebody decided that this road designed for the Lollipop Guild crowd needed a set of S curves.

It was the first thing my neighbors told me about when I got there. Stay out of our snacks and watch out for the S curves.

“How do I get through it,” I asked nervously.

“Follow the sign, go slow and stay to the right.”

I didn’t believe the  yellow sign when I saw it at first. I thought it was cute how slow these country bumpkins wanted me to go.

I’m supposed to go 5 mph? Tectonic plates shift faster than that.

Keep right, the sign said.

And then I went around the curves the first time. And I then I imagined another truck meeting me somewhere in the middle, resulting in the use of a spatula to get scrape my Camry off his grill.

So I was so careful at first, driving like a grandma during rush hour. I inched along while hugging the right each time, no matter how stupid the neighbors thought I looked.

Each day as nothing happened, it got easier to go a little  faster, to move inch-by-inch toward the center.

Then I could feel a tiny alarm go off in my head, warning me to be careful. And I slowed down again, not wanting to be that guy who took one head on for State Farm.

Each day on my way to work, I couldn’t help but think this could be a chapter from “Object Lessons for Dummies — The Mike Henneke Edition.”

It must have been one of those times when I heard this from Thomas S. Monson.

The Prophet Joseph declared, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” 5

Let us walk these clearly defined paths. To help us do so we can follow the shortest sermon in the world. It can be found on a common traffic sign. It reads, “Keep Right.” (Priesthood session, Aprill 1999 General Conference.)

I bet he got that from my old, yellow sign.


What I didn’t expect my mom to say

I lean back in my chair, not prepared for the response I had just received from mom sitting in front of me in a wheelchair.

Next to us, a movie continues to play on a large flat-screen television. Across the room, two other residents of the assisted-living facility stare off into the distance, each lost in their own little world.

That’s usually how I find mom these days, after the same diseases of the mind that slowly destroyed her mother, hit my mom hard. Less than six months ago, she seemed fine for the most part. Now after a combination of Alzheimer’s, dementia and strokes, she’s here in this place, where, despite the very best efforts of cheerful attendants, seems mostly devoid of life.

I believe this right after I was adopted in 1967.

I believe this right after I was adopted in 1967.

She’s often connected enough to know that Alzheimer’s can be hell with your mind and family members around you. My mom saw what it did to her mother, making her fear this disease above any other.

On most days, I could be her waiter, the bus driver to take her back to Kansas or Army drill sergeant. With Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, it’s so easy for cynicism to creep in, so easy to shake your head at another family member. As if to say, “You’ll never guess what she said today.”

But today, she seems different, and I’m not sure why. The ever-present shroud over her mind appears gone for the most part. Her personal wall — a defense mechanism for nearly my entire life — also appears to be gone. Instead, I see someone more meek and humble, like a little child.

Mom tried her best with me growing up, while struggling to cope with challenges beyond her control. But I seemed to have born the brunt of her negativity. At least that’s how it seemed to young Mike.

In her effort to make me better, she always seemed to tear me down. Nothing appeared good enough.

Mike, you’re breathing wrong.

That’s not how you treat the Betamax.

With penmanship like that, you’ll never find a girl.

It has always bothered me for a number of years, even as signs of her negativity carried into our marriage. It took years, but my family and I grew to love her, in spite of some constant messages of doom and gloom.

Now we were face-to-face, connecting with each other for the first time since she became sick.

I ask her about her regrets in life, which she talks about openly.

Then I ask her one more question, the one I was sure I knew the answer to. It was only four months earlier — when the signs of the sickness first appeared — that I tried to get her to say something positive about me.

In the video snippet below, I interrupt a conversation between her and Micah.

“Is this the part where you say something nice about me,” I kid her from behind the camera.

As you can see, there is nothing mean about her reply. But despite my best efforts to draw something out of her, the compliment never happens.

It doesn’t bother me at all. Because I had learned to expect it by now.

Now here in this room where I usually dread to visit, I ask her one more question.

“What are you proudest of the most in your life?’

She looks me in the eye and doesn’t even hesitate.

“Why my kids of course,” she said.

I smile back at her and decide to press a little more, even though I have a good idea what she will say.

“So you really are proud of me,” I ask her.

Again, she doesn’t hesitate.

“Of course, I am. I wish I did a better job bringing you up. But I think you figured out how to get there.”

It was time to go. I leaned over, kissed her on the cheek and told her that I loved her.

As it turns out, I didn’t really know the answer after all.

And that’s more than fine with me.


Why you should give thanks after reading this

I’m grateful for $13 in my checking account until Tuesday. It helps me focus less on stuff and on what really matters.

I’m grateful for the chance to live by myself in a tiny apartment over a garage  for three months. The quiet here has led to some amazing inspiration and makes me treasure even the briefest of phone calls from home.

I’m grateful for walking down the hallway in high school day after, waiting for the name-calling, derisive comments and the laughter. It prepared me to help my own kids and blessed me with empathy for kids experiencing the same thing. Thanks-in-sand

I’m grateful for church held in an old schoolhouse where our most holy place consisted of a room with folding chairs on a wooden floor surrounded by a chalkboard. It taught me to never take for granted beautiful church buildings that now look and feel like mini temples.

I’m grateful for a dad who thought that watching television with him was good enough for bonding time. It gave me the resolve to be different, to be better for my children.

I’m grateful for those two car accidents on black ice, nearly drowning twice, just missing a head-on collision with a semi truck, nearly getting run over by a tractor and leaving two minutes later so I missed the incredible damage done by that moose crossing the road. It taught me that I’ve been protected by divine sources — that I can’t explain, but know to be true.

I’m grateful for a mom who made me memorize my first public talk at age 7 where I was so scared that I cried. And for that speech in humanities that may go down as the most epic fail in public speaking of all time. From those fails, I learned how to stand in front of a crowd and speak with some power and confidence.

I’m grateful for those who treated me unfairly and placed a tremendous burden on my family. It taught me humility and made me tougher.

I’m grateful for the guy who asked the homeless man in Dairy Queen, “would you like a sandwich,” and then bought him a meal. It taught me that nothing else matters.

I’m grateful to hear words like these, for they have taught me a whole new way to think of gratitude.

Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be. — Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf (General Conference, April 2014)


Newspaper has bigger worries besides me

Two printed columns in the last five months.

Both about little ol’ me.

The latest one is in today’s Standard Journal by Managing Editor Greg Little. He appears to be offended by my opinions expressed on Facebook about how they covered a news story. I am not mentioned by name, it’s very obvious who they are referring to.

Little excerpt

For a guy who’s leaving town with his family, heading for a new job and a new beginning, they sure seem fascinated by what I have to say. If I am so incompetent as they allege, why do my words matter?

It would be so easy to fire back, to bring up damning emails and documents that I have in my possession. It would be so easy to seek out a lawyer to demand a retraction, or to march out numerous concerned citizens who have approached me to discuss the current direction of the newspaper.

But I don’t have time for that. Instead I’ll let Rexburg Mayor Richard Woodland speak for me. This is an excerpt from a mailing that was sent out to all media organizations and will go out with utility bills to everyone:

We seem to face a time within the City of Rexburg and Madison County where nay saying has become a popular sport or tool of a radical fringe that seems to be encouraged by an out of state newspaper. The Rexburg Standard Journal was at one time a locally owned and valuable asset to this community, however the current out of state owners have assumed  that “ginned up” controversies might sell more newspapers. Instead of being a builder it has become an adversary to the good people of this community. There has been such a diatribe against local officials that make them wonder why they bother to serve. Yet they do so, because they are builders. The naysayers are not builders! Some of them have been defeated in their attempts at becoming elected. They will not endure! Their names will be forgotten! Only the names of builders are remembered.

Trust me, mayor. I know how you feel.

I will be fine. My family and I are excited for what the future brings and grateful for the many friends we have made here in Rexburg. I can’t help but worry about the future of the Standard Journal. When a community newspaper loses the support of much of the community, they have more to be concerned about than whatever I have to say.


local news

The best “customer service” when I needed it the most

I didn’t pay attention to him at first, because I just wanted a place to wait with nobody bothering me.

With my wife shopping in another part of the store, I put my head down and stared at my phone like we all do.  

Less than a minute later, the restaurant employee worked to my attention from the other side of the room.

“Can I help you with something, or do you just need a place to sit,” he asked me politely from behind the counter. He was a clean-cut young man, one that I used to attend the same local LDS ward with for a time. I vaguely remembered he was a married student pursuing some sort of degree at BYU-Idaho, but not much else.

I motioned that I was fine and returned to my phone, struggling to set up an email account with little success.

It was several minutes later before I noticed him again, efficiently wiping down walls behind me.

“Do you need me to move,” I asked.

“No, you’re good,” he said with a smile, moving around to the other side of my table.

He was so polite to me and I didn’t deserve it. Despite all the blessings showered upon my family, despite all the good people I had met and the miracles I had seen, my spiritual tanks were running low tonight.

It wasn’t too much later when the employee asked about my employment prospects. He knew that I had been unemployed for five months, but didn’t know much about the acrimony that never seemed to let up.

I told him about my new job and how I would be leaving for Oregon in less than a week.

After he offered congratulations, he looked at me.

“I know it probably hasn’t been easy for you here,” he said. “When I first saw you in church, I noticed how much energy you had to live the gospel. That really made an impression on me.”

I smiled, mumbled thanks and he returned to his duties.

I tried but couldn’t concentrate on anything else except what he said.

Before I left, I walked across the room and motioned for him to come out of the back.

“Remind me what you’re studying,” I said to him. He was working his way toward becoming a lawyer.

“Thanks for what you said,” I told him.

It hasn’t been easy here at times, I said. In fact, it’s been incredibly hard. “But your comment means a lot to me,” I said.

After shaking hands, I walked out of the restaurant with a smile and more energy.

All because of some of the best customer service when I needed it the most.


Terror in the credit union

By Mike Henneke

REXBURG – At first Grayson Sabin thought the chilling words behind him were part of a drill.

He was in line to cash a check inside the East Idaho Credit Union on Wednesday, when he heard a male voice behind him say the following that he won’t soon forget.

 “Nobody move. I’m robbing this bank. If anybody moves or calls the police, I will shoot you.”

Sabin, 24, a communications student at Brigham Young University-Idaho, turned to see a short, stocky man wearing a black coat with a hood, baggy jeans and a black ski mask. In his hands, held an AK-47 full automatic weapon.

The masked man took a couple of steps toward Sabin and pointed the assault weapon with its distinctive drum magazine directly at Sabin.

“If you move, I’ll shoot you,” Sabin recalled the masked man saying.

This wasn’t a drill, but something much more serious.

More than 24 hours later after Wednesday’s armed robbery in Rexburg, Sabin recounted details from the terrifying minutes inside the credit union — from a manager and employees who acted calm under pressure to the masked man FBI now believes is the AK-47 Bandit, a serial bank robber responsible for numerous robberies in at least three states.

Sabin told what happened that Wednesday afternoon one more time, even while admitting he’s grown weary telling it over and over again to his friends.

“It’s probably a story I’m going to tell my whole life,” Sabin said by phone Thursday night.

It was shortly before 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday when Sabin parked his Jeep near the East Idaho Credit Union on Grand Loop in Rexburg. He told a friend he planned to run in and cash a check and asked her to wait outside in the Jeep.

He took his place in line and was next to approach a teller when the masked man walked in, uttering the words heard by Sabin.

The time was 4:19 p.m.

With his hands in the air, Sabin moved to the side and watched as the masked man walked around to clean out cash from each teller station.

In the bank with Sabin were a father with two small children, a Hispanic adult male customer, the branch manager and three or four tellers.

Once he was done, the robber ordered the bank manager to get all the money from the back of the vault.

As he waited, Sabin sensed the man in the ski mask had done this before, by the way he carried himself and the strict time schedule he was following.

“He was definitely a professional,” Sabin said.

As the bank manager continued to retrieve the money from the vault, the robber became agitated over the time delay, at one point angrily pounding his fist against a glass door.

As he waited, the robber talked to the people in the room about a previous robbery in California and how he had shot a police officer.

As the bank manager brought the money back from the vault, Sabin said the masked man inspected the money before ordering everybody at gunpoint into the vault.

Once everybody was inside the vault, Sabin said the man known as the AK-47 Bandit swung the vault door shut.

The large vault door slammed shut and then bounced open just a little. Sabin said the masked man immediately ran off leaving them in the vault.

After a minute or so, the branch manager and Sabin checked to make sure the outside was safe before everybody exited the vault.

The time was just after 4:30 p.m. He walked outside and told the girl he just met two days earlier what happened. Sabin asked her to take his Jeep back to his apartment, knowing he would be tied up with law enforcement for the next several hours.

The next few minutes were a blur, bank employees locking the bank with everybody inside, police surrounding the bank with heavy weapons and clearing everybody inside.

More than two hours later, Sabin and others were allowed to go free.

As for the check he planned to cash on Wednesday? Sabin had to return to the Rexburg branch on Thursday to cash it where he relived the experience with several bank employees, now very much friends with him.

Sabin won’t soon forget what happened on Wednesday, especially having an AK-47 style weapon pointed directly at him.

“Having one pointed at me was quite a traumatic experience,” Sabin said.

Read more:

Friends pay tribute to fun-loving man killed in crash

Brian Hymas

In an image from his Facebook page, Brian Hymas is shown working on his own truck at Hymas Repair a week before his death.

By Mike Henneke

Brian Hymas woke up early Saturday morning with a busy day ahead of him, according to what would be his last Facebook post.

First it was off to appear on the “Peak Performance Show” on a local radio station. Then it was a quick plane trip to Jackson, Wyo., to repair some fuel tankers. Then back to Idaho Falls to work on his weekend list of chores.

Hymas, 43, never made it home. The mechanic with ties to Rexburg and BYU-Idaho, was killed when the twin-engine aircraft crashed a few minutes after taking off from the Idaho Falls Regional Airport.

In addition to Hymas, Mark J. Schell, 64, of Idaho Falls was also killed. A 13-year-old boy also on the plane was listed in stable condition Saturday at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

Hymas was officially listed as from Rexburg. His Facebook page lists his residence in Idaho Falls where he owned Hymas Repair with his wife, Ann.

Idaho Falls Police Department spokeswoman Joelyn Hansen said the pilot of the Piper Comanche was apparently circling back toward the airport when the aircraft went down about a mile south of the airport in a vacant lot. No one on the ground was injured.

“Protocol is that if they have a problem with takeoff they come back,” Hansen said. “He was in the process of doing that when they crashed.”

“We’re not sure on who was piloting the plane at this point,” Hansen said.

She said the air traffic control tower at the airport was manned and cleared the flight with three people aboard for takeoff at about 1:35 p.m. The craft was airborne for only a few minutes before the crash.

Hansen said emergency responders with the Idaho Falls Police Department and Fire Department, as well as from the airport, responded quickly and that the three victims had to be extricated from the wreckage.

She said local officials are staying at the crash site until an investigation team with the National Transportation Safety Board arrives.

A FAA registry site search for tail number N830SS lists Schell as the registered owner of the 1969 Piper Comanche PA-30. A photo dated May 17 on Hymas’ Facebook wall shows Schell working on what appears to be the same Piper Comanche.

Patrick Bjornn, a longtime acquaintance of Hymas and his wife, Ann, learned of the news late Saturday night.

“Still can’t believe it,” Bjornn wrote on Brian’s Facebook page, next to numerous other tributes. “Hard to comprehend that such a caring and generous man was called home today.”

Bjornn remembered Hymas as an excellent mechanic, willing to help anyway he could. It didn’t matter if it could potentially affect the bottom line of his business. With Brian, it was people first, Bjornn said.

“He was willing to bend over backwards, even if it put him in the hole,” Bjornn said.

Before he left home early Saturday, Brian wrote one final Facebook post, this one in the third person.

“Life chapter four paragraph three. Brian woke up this morning and realized how old he is getting,” the post read. “His eyes just opened and his brain said get up you have to much to do today to just lay around here and hold the pillow down with your head.”

And then the last line:

“I’m starting to slow down and I don’t like it”


Associated Press contributed to this story.

Read more:

Master storyteller still has the touch

Bill Cosby entertained the crowd from this chair on stage at the Hart Auditorium Thursday night at Brigham Young University-Idaho. EMMA FORREST/STANDARD JOURNAL

Went and saw my old friend the other night. Sat right in his living room with the rest of his few thousand friends.

Like the rest of you, I focused directly on him as he spoke for two hours. Very few people can command that kind of attention from me.

Not with Bill Cosby. For the last few weeks, I wondered if the master storyteller still had it, if advancing years would take a toll on his game.

It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t the case.

Soon after Miles Blaine, Center Stage student director, offered the customary opening prayer given at Brigham Young University-Idaho events, he walked off stage with co-host Meg Shaver. He wasn’t ready for Cosby to bring both of them back on stage.

“He just grabbed me and said, ‘come back up here with me,’” Blaine said later.

Bill walked on stage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Dressed in a white BYU-I sweatshirt with the words “Hello Friend” in rainbow colors, Cosby motioned for Blaine and Shaver to stand next to him.

Surely not accustomed to having somebody open his act with a prayer, he still found an opportunity for comedy.

It seems the night before that the crowd of mostly students had said “amen” with much more fervor, he told the crowd.

As for Thursday’s audience, “That was pitiful,” he said.

After instructing the two next to him to say, “In Thy name,” the repentant audience responded with a more thunderous amen.

And so went the theme for much of the night. While Cosby focused on familiar themes of aging, marriage and family, much of the night included a religious tone.

It’s like he knew where he was or something.

Atheists would be wise to leave themselves some wiggle room, Cosby said while sitting in a comfortable chair with a large bottle of spring water and a box of tissues next to him.

“You can’t get in by saying, ‘I was just kidding.’”

Only Cosby could spend nearly an hour mining comic gold from the story of Adam and Eve.

When the audience, made up of mostly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, incorrectly referred to the “tree of knowledge” as the “tree of life” during the story of Adam and Eve, Cosby hung his head in his hands in exaggerated fashion.

“Is the president of the college still here?” he asked looking off stage.

Cosby, with his hair completely white now, showed his usual impeccable comic timing, facial expressions and delivery.

He marveled at the logic of Adam and Eve going into “God’s garden” to “hide from God.”

“Obviously the fruit had not kicked in,” Cosby said.

Perhaps what makes him so impressive is his ability to identify with the common man.

In short, he gets me.

When he spoke of wives leaving notes everywhere before they leave, I thought of the notes on boxes still piled high in my living room — with instructions from my wife not to open them until she got there.

When he talked about the plight of the father of the bride, I smiled to myself, for that had been me just a few short weeks ago.

“The house is not my house,” Cosby said. “I live there, but it’s not my house.”

In the end, I was glad to be in his house. Even if it was for only two hours, I was a better person for it.

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