Thursday, May 23, 2013


February 7, 1937 ~ May 14, 2013

Raimund Georg Goeckeritz, our beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother and friend, passed away peacefully on May 14, 2013 at the age of 76 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Raimund was born on February 7, 1937, in Neuwuerschnitz, Saxony Germany to Hildegard Fischer and Georg W. Goeckeritz.

Raimund married his sweetheart and eternal companion Elvona Joan Anderson on May 7, 1965 in the Salt Lake Temple. They were married for 48 years and had five children; Cindy (Jerry) Wallace, Bryan (Stormy), Brent, JaNae (Brett) Larsen, Bradley; seventeen wonderful grandchildren; Justin, Whitney (Michael), Braydon, Brock, Christian, Kira, BrookLyn, Tanner, Colton, Dylan, Jayden, Jayce, Jaxson, Landon, Logan, Diego, Mateo and one great-grandchild; Mason.

Raimund's life was full of adventure and he always had funny interesting stories to share. He escaped Communist East Germany in 1956 at the age of 20 and came to the United States. He served in the U.S. Army in Korea and later served an LDS mission to Austria. He became a U.S. Citizen in 1965 and was very proud to be an American and honor the U.S. flag. Even though he loved being a U.S. Citizen he never forgot his German heritage and taught his family to love and be proud of the German culture.

Raimund and his younger brother Klaus were the founders and owners of Millcreek Garage a well-known and respected Volkswagen repair shop in Salt Lake City. They were in business for over 40 years before both retiring. Raimund served in many LDS church callings over the years including being a bishop two times, a youth leader and a Scoutmaster. He was adored and respected within his community and his church for his passion to serve and his example to others.

Raimund loved the outdoors and anytime he could spend outdoors doing what he loved made him happy. The only thing he loved more than being outdoors was being with his family. He was an avid snowmobiler, but he also loved boating, hiking, camping, fishing, 4 wheeling, taking motorcycle rides on his street bike with his sons, flying with his friend Bob, or taking grandkids out for a fast spin in his VW buggy. He received his Boy Scout Wood Badge Award as well as a Daughters of the American Revolution Americanism Medal Award for becoming a citizen and contributing greatly to the community. His charm, wittiness and love for fun and life were contagious. Those that had the privilege to know Raimund loved him and will forever be touched by his Christ like example.

He was Preceded in death by his mother Hildegard F. Goeckeritz and his father Georg Walter Goeckeritz.

A viewing will be held on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 from 6-8 p.m. at Memorial Mortuary at 5850 South 900 East Murray, Utah. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11 a.m. with a viewing one hour preceding at the LDS Winder West Stake Center 4551 South 1200 East, Salt Lake City, Utah. Interment Mountain View Memorial 3115 East 7800 South Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

Today at Bishop Goeckeritz's funeral I had one of those experiences where you feel and realize things so deeply that you can't really put them into words. But still I want to attempt to share my thoughts about this man and how he improved my life. 

Very soon after Bishop was first called to be our ward's bishop, he was diagnosed with cancer and had a surgery that nearly took his life. I didn't know him very well yet, but of course was concerned about him. When I think about what I would have missed out on by knowing him if he had died at that time, I feel immensely grateful that he was allowed to live. I never hid the fact from anyone that I didn't enjoy being the Relief Society president of the Winder 16th ward very much. Despite being a simply wonderful and welcoming ward, it was a very difficult ward to serve in. I recently read in my journal about that time and was reminded of some of the absolutely crazy things I had to deal with. Things that don't normally happen in a ward family. Plus, I was young, really too young to know how to deal with some of the crazier incidents. "Age has nothing to do with it," Bishop told me when he called me. "HA!" I wanted to say back, but didn't. Over time, I got better at it for sure, but it wasn't an easy road. Of course with every trial there are the deep blessings that come from that kind of sacrifice and service. First one being the great love I felt (and still feel) for the women I served. When I would teach I would find myself speaking words that weren't my own and always felt uplifted as I attended Relief Society and spent time with so many great women. I'll be a Relief Society gal for the rest of my life because of that time. But beyond that the greatest blessing hands down was the opportunity to serve under a bishop like Bishop Goeckeritz. 

He had a no-nonsense view of life, because he never took anything for granted. He loved everyone he served, but he also didn't let anyone push him around. I really loved that about him. We always seemed to see eye to eye on ward matters, and I knew he ALWAYS had my back no matter what. One-on-one time with him was precious, his advice and words of wisdom always being just what I needed to hear. He also would make me laugh. English was his second language so I'm not sure all of my jokes made sense to him, but he always laughed good-naturedly at them anyway. Oh man, he had a great laugh. 

I remember sitting in his office right around Christmas--it was the night of the Sub for Santa deliveries. I had plans with friends that night, but stopped in to make sure everything was going fine before I left for dinner. He had seen an oncologist that day and was told that he had only six months left to live. It must have been right then that I realized how much I loved him, because I was devastated by that news. He had everyone that was there that night come into his office and we knelt in prayer for him. It wasn't often he asked for a prayer to be said on his behalf, but it was a great comfort to me at that time. Soon he started going to the Huntsman Cancer Institute where he got a better outlook if he was willing to try experimental drugs. He took them with little complaint of the unpleasant side effects and his life was extended.

Some people have a way of expressing themselves in spiritual matters that can really touch your soul. He was one of those people. When he spoke in meetings and with me I was always paying very close attention to his words and how they made me feel. He was never afraid to show his emotions and I remember him telling me about going to General Conference and standing as President Hinckley left the conference and everyone was singing "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet." All I had to do was look at him to understand how sacred that experience was for him, and I don't think I will forget it.

Sometimes he would ask me to do things and I was like: Seriously, Bishop? You want me to do WHAT? Keep in mind that I felt like I was always strung really tight, and my fragile strings would seem to break at a moment's notice. One of the things he asked me to do was to start going to choir. Our ward didn't have one--we couldn't really sustain it. But Bishop loved music and I think he thought it was a disgrace that we couldn't get it together enough to have a ward choir. So he said to all of us at a Sunday morning leadership meeting: "Everyone in this room will be a part of the choir." This meant that after being at church all morning and day I now had to stay an extra hour to sing in the choir. Now I can sing fine, but I don't usually care about singing in a choir. But guess what? I did it, because he asked me--or rather, told me :). And of course he was there singing too. Our choir was actually quite good, and I ended up really enjoying the experience.

When we found our house, I didn't want to make an offer on it without talking to him first. He told me that I could move if I promised to have kids right away. I was always scared of starting a family and the change it could be in my life. But I tell ya, after that calling I felt like I could freaking do anything. Including having a baby, and of course we did as we were told.

My all time favorite Bishop story is that at Stella's baby blessing, Bishop was kind of fighting my dad for the coveted position next to Brent. I know he loved that baby girl and felt just as much entitlement to being next to Brent as her grandpas did. When we were sitting at my house eating after the blessing, he said to me: "You being the Relief Society president was the best thing to ever happen to you." At first I kind of laughed because what about marrying Brent or having that cute baby over there that we were honoring that day? But I thought about what he said and realized he was right. I feel like before that calling and before working with him my life was headed on one track and he took me off of it and put me on another completely different and more fulfilling track. I can't even express feelings I have when I think about what I learned serving in that calling. It was harder than my mission, but I still take so much strength from that time. I am so grateful that he was in tune to call me to serve with him, and for the time that he spent on his knees on my behalf. 

After we moved of course I couldn't see him as often as I used to, but that didn't mean I didn't think about him and how he was doing all the time. I used to make a special effort to drive by his house to see if I could catch him outside, and I often did. On the day that my dad was put on a ventilator and I was told to expect that he might not survive, it was Bishop Goeckeritz that I wanted to talk to the most. I tearfully told him that I needed his prayers because I was of the belief that his prayers had just a bit more weight than those of the average person. I'm sure he wouldn't agree, but I still stand by that belief. :)

Every time I saw him he was positive. When he talked about his illness it was never self-pitying but more just stating the facts. He was able to go on trips and retire and live a pretty full life the last several years. The last time I saw him was definitely divine intervention. Stella and I were couch shopping on President's Day. He was walking out of RC Willey and I saw him as we were parking. He didn't have his usual pep as we chatted and caught up. I knew when we said goodbye that it was going to be the last time I would see him. As we parted and walked away, I said to him: "You just remember that I will always do what you say, because I know you are always right." He smiled and waved goodbye.

When I first glimpsed at his body in a casket today I was immediately filled with sadness, gratitude, love, and all sorts of emotions that I tried so hard to contain. How did a little man from Germany completely change my life and teach me so much in such a short time? What if he had died when he was first sick and I would have never gotten to know him? What a blessing was this man's life to me, and to so many others. These last years of his life were a gift from God.

I hope I never forget his distinct laugh, and his love of life and adventures. His never-failing love of others and of the restored gospel. And I will blame him the rest of my life for sharing with me the most delicious peaches that I have ever tasted from his tree, so now every other peach that I eat for the rest of my life will taste like a fleshy nothingness. But as for every other aspect of my life, he made things fuller and brighter through his example. God must really love me to let me get to know a man such as him.


Candychase said...

Thks for sharing. This is beautiful! *tears. He will truly b missed. He was such a great example to us and a wonderful adopted grandpa to the kids. He is at peace and for that i am happy. But i am also sad that he is gone for i believe he was a angel who was sent to help the Winder 16th ward to be the ppl we are today. Xoxo - Candy

Geoff and Christy said...

That was amazing Michelle. Love ya!

Mistie said...

I read every last word and hung onto every sentence. I am so happy to see that you were touched by someone like you touch so many people's lives. I feel like people like him that enter our lives are the tender mercies that keep us going sometimes and that are put in our path for a reason. I am so happy for you that you were able to cross paths with him. He sounds amazing. What a beautiful post.

Elvona Goeckeritz said...

Machelle, Thank you so much for your sweet email and the special sweet comments about my sweetheart. I miss him hourly daily it still is hard especially in the evenings. He was a great guy and he taught me so many special things and he had a very special spirit. I loved the time we could share when he served has Bishop in the 16th ward. You were a great RS Pres. I know you had many experiences also. All his RS Pres were very special in their own way. Thankyou for all that you did and how you took care of him while he was battling cancer and your visits to both of us. Keep in touch my email is is in a happy place even though he is not with me anymore at least for a short time. I will be with him again I am so glad that we are married for eternity, My Love Elvona