"From the time that Cory was just a young boy, he always wanted to go fishing; but being a single Mom and not knowing anything about how to catch fish, we would always try, but never catch anything. My boys were always disappointed, but they still had fun trying. During the following talk by Cory’s Young Men’s President, he shared among other things, a fishing trip Cory had the opportunity to go on. This experience was such a comfort to me; because learned more about Cory's wonderful experience of going fishing with the young men, where he finally caught more than a lifetime’s share of fish! "
Funeral Talk by Brother Rip Stead:
Good morning Brothers and Sisters. I don’t know many of you, but we are truly Brothers and Sisters in our Heavenly Father’s eyes. I haven’t been to many Memorial services. In fact, as an adult this is the second one I’ve been to, and the first one I’ve had the opportunity to speak at. And it’s only fitting, because of my relationship with Cory. Because I had the opportunity to know him, I had a lot of new experiences. I didn’t know Cory as a child, and I didn’t have the opportunity to know Cory as he was growing up, but I was blessed to know Cory as a man. And he is a friend of mine.
I was called to be his Young Men President, which in our church, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is basically the same as the senior scout leader. I had the opportunity to be the scout leader for the older youth ages 16 to 18/19 years old, and Cory was in that group with me. For over 3 years, I was there, and what a tremendous opportunity it was for me to work with these young men and especially Cory. I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak today. He was a great example for me and we had a lot of fun together. You know, in my opinion, I came to realize at times that in our pre-mortal life before we came to earth, Cory was one of the more valiant spirits and all he needed was not to be proven or anything, but to just receive his body. I realized at this time, that his sojourn here with us was mostly for our benefit. What a special example he was for me. I don’t even have a suit jacket for activities such as this, and when I was talking with the Bishop, I said, “Bishop, I don’t even have a jacket.” He said, “That’s ok, Cory never saw you in a jacket.” And he never did. Very rarely did he see me in a tie, except on Sundays.
You know, I have a little bit of a stomach on me and Cory had a little paunch too and we would come down the halls in church and we’d belly bump each other - shove each other a little bit and grapple a little bit and it was always fun. Whenever you said Cory’s name, he got that smile -- he’d kind of look sideways and you could see that big ole grin on his face. Just from calling his name, that sideways smile would appear. And then we’d bump a little bit and say ‘Hi’.
We had many experiences where Cory was always excited to do something. It didn’t matter what we were doing, he was excited to do it. And he would jump in with both feet and go - sometimes you’d have to rein him in and say, “Cory, we’re not ready for that yet.” Cory was always straight forward and whenever we’d have activities, he was always ready to jump right in the middle of it. He might not have always known what he was doing, but he was ready to jump right in and go hog wild. It was mentioned that he got to play on the young men’s basketball team. Cory loved that! What a great group of young men we had - and Cory was a part of the team.
One time, it was proposed that we build a room - convert the garage into a room for Cory so he could have a room all to himself. And he was excited about that. As a group of young men, we were going to build this room for him. So, we went and bought lumber with money that Cory had saved for. So, while we were out in the lumber yard buying lumber, Cory looked over the 2 by 4’s with us and then, we bought the nails. Back in the garage, all Cory needed was a hammer. He was in there with the rest of the guys. We were pounding 2 by 4’s and putting studs into the floor. We never finished the room cause it worked out that a room opened up in the house for him when his sister got married. But, we had at least the wall up and were ready to go. I bet you can still see the nail marks in the floors where we shot those in with stud guns. All you had to do was give Cory a hammer and nails and he was excitedly pounding away with the rest of the guys. Whatever he did, he was excited about it.
There was a period of time when I used to shoot a lot of archery, so I had several bows. One time the young men and I decided that we were all going to learn how to shoot. So, we went to the local range here in town and I talked with the gentleman and told him it was for our older scouts. He let us use a lot of bows that were easier to pull back than the ones that I had. So we went shooting 6 or 7 months in a row, at least once a month, sometimes more. You all know that Cory was special and had some physical difficulties, but when he got into a task, he didn’t let that hold him back. And I tell you what Brothers and Sisters, I wouldn’t have wanted to be that deer or that wild boar up on that target he was shooting at. After a few months, he was every bit as good as the rest of the guys - better than some. He’d get up to that line and pull those arrows out of the holder and notch it and he’d shoot it and he was killing himself a boar - he was ready to go. He was always excited - a big ole grin on his face. It was so much a pleasure to be around him and see the example that he was.
We had the opportunity to earn money for a project one year where we went deep sea fishing as a group. So we went to the coast. We spent the night there and did some camping - and Cory loved to camp. He’d be out there with his sleeping bag and flashlight and he was ready to go. I don’t know how many of you have ever been deep sea fishing. You go to the dock quite early, usually 5 or 6 in the morning. You’re on a boat, and we chartered one just for our group. It was about a 40 foot boat which was about 15 feet wide. Around the outside of the boat, there was about a 3 foot walkway and a 3 1/2 foot railing around it made out of wood. So you could walk around the entire boat and lean on this railing to fish off any side of the boat you wanted. There were hooks on top of the railing where they hooked a burlap sack for you so that any fish you caught, you could take them off your hook and throw them in the sack and then you could keep on fishing and worry about the other fish later.
So, we went out on this trip and we were out fishing where the captain tried to get you into schools of fish that he had spotted the day before - his favorite spots that he found with sonar. So there were kind of spells of nothing and then you would get into the school of fish and drift through it. At those times, it was frantic fishing. In deep sea fishing, you drop your line in the water and when it goes down into the school of fish, you get some fish on it and crank it back up. There’s not a lot of finesse to it but it is a lot of fun.
So, I had Cory out there right next to me on the boat and I’ll never forget this experience. We’re out there fishing and most of the young men had lines in with 4 hooks about a foot apart. We got into a school of blue bass about this big and they were a bluish color. We got into a large school of that and boy! The fish were hittin’! Cory reeled in his first rack, and he had a fish on every hook! He was so excited and had a big grin on his face. The fish were flopping around and so he pulled it over and he was swinging it around like this and I was dodging the hooks and fish! I set my pole down and I was getting his fish off the line as quick as I could, while everyone else was pulling them in left and right. Cory was all excited and yelling as I took his fish and threw them on the deck of the boat. Cory was worried about getting the fish in the bag so they wouldn’t slide down the deck and back into the water. There were about 4 fish flopping around, and somebody else's fish were flopping around too. I said, “Cory, I’ll get the fish for you - you get your line back in.” As soon as he got his line back in, about 30 seconds later, he pulled it out again and there were 4 more! Meanwhile, a nice little harbor seal had grabbed hold of my line and out it went into the water. And here was Cory swinging his line around yelling to hurry and get the fish off the hook so he could catch more; and hurry and get them into the bag so they wouldn’t go off into the water. While he’s yelling that, he was bringing up 4 more! He couldn’t catch one or two at a time, it had to be four! So, we had fish flopping around on the deck with me trying to catch them and get them off the hook. And, Cory was having a great time. We were just all grinning ear to ear and having fun. There were a couple of guys who caught more than Cory, but I didn’t. He had a bag full of fish! It was just a lot of fun!
And that’s how everything was for Cory. Everything he did was fun! Whether he was pounding nails, or sleeping on the ground, or reeling in fish and hop stepping around the deck of a boat. It was fun for him and he enjoyed it. What an example that was for me - how we should live our lives - that whatever it is we’re doing, have a grin on our face and go for it full force and do all that we can and enjoy the moment. I know he did. I know he still is. Whenever I think of Cory, I’ll think of that sideways smile and them fish flopping around that deck and the big ole grin on his face and of all the things that he taught me. As we all do that, Brothers and Sisters, maybe we can take a quiet moment and remember those things and the way Cory lived his life and maybe say a silent prayer and tell him thanks. I know I will.