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Obituary ~ Moroni M. Traxler
January 05, 1867 ~ April 08, 1953
The Saints Herald
June 22, 1953 pp 8 (584) – (585) 9
Be Not Afraid
By Roy A. Cheville
Funeral sermon of Moroni Traxler given in the Reorganized Church at Lamoni, Iowa, April 12, 1953.
THE SAINTS OF ALL AGES have carried an inner assurance that eventually righteousness would triumph. They have declared good news of God's sustaining help for those who would qualify for this divine assistance. This conviction has given hope and courage.
Such a saint and prophet was Isaiah. About-700 B.C., from his vantage place in Jerusalem, he looked out on a world that must have appeared to be spiritually topsy-turvy. Assyria, recognized by cruelly and plunder, was the reigning world power. The Ten Tribes had just been carried into captivity and were now lost to recognition. Even in Judah selfish officials and ritualistic priests stood in the way of spiritual reform. Yet Isaiah would not go down in hopelessness. He raised his voice with affirmative courage:
0 Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up, into,the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God.—Isaiah 40: 9.
This watchword of Isaiah has been the stay of ever so many saints-Be not gfrard! Behold your God! I speak of this today because I believe it was the life slogan of Moroni Traxler, whom we honor today. He believed it. He lived by it. He witnessed of it.
Again and again Jesus called his disciples from the way of fear. His birth had been announced by a chorus of angels who opened their annunciation with the assuring words, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy" (Luke 2: 10). His ministry was to close with the Great Commission in which he was to charge his apostles to go into all the world with the promise of his sustaining companionship.
Between this celestial announcement and his farewell commission, Jesus was to say many a time to his disciples, "Be not afraid." One day when he came walking toward his disciples on a storm-tossed Sea of Galilee he greeted the frightened mariners with the salutation, "Be of good cheer; it is 1; be not afraid" (Matthew 14: 27). When they recognized their Lord, their fears were dispelled. One day Jesus selected three of his more intimate associates and went on retreat to a high mountain. To this small company there came the enveloping spiritual presence that testified, "This is my beloved Son . . . hear ye him!" The awe-stricken disciples fell to their knees. Jesus touched them. and spoke to restore their confidence, "Arise, and be not afraid!" (Matthew 17: 7) The word "arise" is significant. When we surmount our fears, we are standing, facing squarely into the future. Once again when the resurrected Jesus met some of his followers a short way from the tomb, he addressed the trembling ones, "Be not afraid, go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me" (Matthew 28: 10). Those words, "go" and "tell," ought to be emphasized. When we rise above our fears, we become doers and witnesses. We turn outwardly into something that gives us a hold on life.
Jesus spoke of a faith that rises above fear. Love would transform the fear of the Lord until it was no longer fear. As we survey history, we conclude that religion based on fear never reaches the highest levels. Fear of hell can never prepare us for an eternity of happiness. Bertrand Russell wrote a chapter for the book, If I Could Preach just Once. In it he said that if he were to give a farewell address he would call on humanity to eliminate fear. If Bertrand Russell, a self-styled atheist, would make such a statement, what ought not a Christian say? Healthy religion develops hopeful outlooks. It does not breed fears, phobias, apprehensions, and complexes.
A maturing faith engenders a progressive sense of fitness to face the future. One of the tragedies too frequently seen is that of adults in their senior years letting themselves fall into a run-down attitude toward life, with nothing left to anticipate but death and release from life.
Moroni Traxler expected and prayed that the fortunes of the church would see their best days after he had gone on. This is a true index of a noble spirit. Selfish souls are not concerned about what happens after they leave the stage of life's drama. Saints of buoyant faith see their lives as chapters in an eternal drama which will continue after they have played their parts. All this was evidenced in Moroni's contributing to this house of worship. From his earnings he set, aside more than he could afford to give. Once, when he came to me with a ten-dollar contribution, I suggested that it was too much. Then I caught the glint in his eye and received the gift as a consecration. He said something like, this, "The Saints will need a home whether I am here to meet in the house or not."I believe he worshiped here only once. His spirit, like those of others who believed without fear, is woven into, the spiritual structure of this place.
It was my good fortune to travel to Kirtland with "Rony" a couple of years ago to the conference of high priests. He might have dwelt on the spiritual glories of a century ago when the Saints had a pentecostal experience. But no, he was happy to sense the moving power of the Spirit of God in the temple of the Lord today. This spiritual endowment sent, him out fearless and unafraid about the church of tomorrow.
Moroni Traxler had an unusual spiritual intuition. His sensitive spirit caught rays of inspiration. From these he often glimpsed the signs of things to come. This enabled him to face life with poise and equanimity. It took him to the brink of eternity and made him expectant for it.
A year ago he called me to his home. He thought the invitation to go a little more imminent than it was. Another year was to go by. That day he was "?ry," but he smiled and greeted me as he had always done. He called me "Royal Baking Powder—always rising." Sometimes he would say, "Be sure you keep your rising spiritual power." He spoke these things with seeming jest, but underneath was a spiritual conviction he wished to convey. He loved the gospel of Jesus Christ with everything in him. He wanted the good work to be carried on after he was gone. Jesus always directed his disciples who were to face life without fear to look outward and forward.
Tennyson in "Ulysses" tells of an aged warrior who had beached his boat and hung up his sword. He became bored with his retirement and idleness and, at last called his men around him with these words, "Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world." He would move at slower pace; he would turn to different arts. But he would still be alert to the unfolding possibilities of a tomorrow. And he would be unafraid. Each day could have renewed confidence. It was so with ','Rony."
Dr. Lillien Marten, founder of the Old Age Counselor Center in San Francisco, has concluded that must of the social loss of memory in our later years is due to lack of interest in the present. She insists that older people can sit in reminiscence of the past, of indifference to the present, and apprehension of tomorrow. She further affirms that senior adults can keep mental faculties alert by learning to find satisfaction in the present and by turning outwardly from themselves to "causes" of consequence. This is simply the Christian gospel in action.
A few weeks ago the college students from Indiana came to our house for a social evening. Arthur Gage of Indianapolis had sent a small sum for refreshments. We used the money to buy a book for the library to be given in his honor. And what did we buy? A small volume, The Best Is Yet To Be. The title was drawn from Robert Browning's lines in Rabbi Ben Ezra:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be. . . .
Trust God: see all,
In this little testimonial book, Paul Marves tells of sitting beside the hospital bed of an elderly woman who had just been informed by her doctor that she had only a few weeks to live. She chose to keep this to herself to avoid distressing others. Her minister friend inquired, "You are not afraid?" "No," she replied, "I look upon it as a great adventure. I have had a full life. Now I wait to see what is beyond. I believe in God and trust in him. I am not afraid."
This was the tone of life of our friend Moroni. We refresh our minds with the story of his eighty-six years.
MORONI TRAXLER, son of John and Esther Traxler, was born in Louisville, Ontario, January 5, 1867. There he grew to young manhood, and in 1885, at the age of eighteen, he came with his parents to the United States, locating on a farm in the Evergreen neighborhood in Missouri. He resided there with them until September 17, 1890, when he was united in marriage to Nellie Grenawalt and they established their own home on a farm in the same community.
In 1895 it was made known to Moroni that he should return to Canada, so he purchased the Canadian farm from his father and with his wife and small daughter, Myrle, went back to Louisville. He at once became active in church work and was made president of Lindsay Branch. In 1902 he was ordained to the office of elder at the Ridgetown conference in Ontario. While Moroni and his wife lived in Canada, four children. were born to them: Nina, now Mrs. Ben Crouch of Bethany, Missouri; Earl, now deceased; Esther, now Mrs. Tom France; and Lenore, now Mrs. John Van Wert of Portland, Oregon. In 1903 he returned to Lamoni; here three more children were born to them: Lee of San Rafael, California; Ralph Moroni, now deceased; and Anabel, now Mrs Paul Jaques of Indianapolis, IN.
For many years Moroni was associated with the Watrous Nursery Company of Des Moines, Iowa, and traveled for it as a landscape gardener. He was an ardent lover of flowers; he delighted in his work. After the years of depression, when the Watrous Company was dissolved, Moroni worked as salesman for the Meredith Publishing Company of Des Moines. He continued with this organization until, because of his age, he was retired from active traveling.
For the last few years he assisted at the Kelley Implement Company of Lamoni and was on active duty until the evening of November 17, 1951, when he was stricken with a heart attack, from which he never fully recovered. Since the death of his wife three years ago, Moroni has made his home with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Tom France. It was from their home he was taken to the hospital at Leon, Iowa, on Wednesday, April 8, where he passed away in the evening.
In 1875 Moroni was baptized a membber of the Reorganized Church, and throughout his entire life he has been dedicated to the work of the church. He delighted to be able to preach the gospel and never failed to embrace an oppornity to explain the principles of his church; because of him many accepted the faith. He was always willing and glad to go whenever called to assist in administering to the sick and fulfilled this part of his calling until his last illness.
On August 4, 1907, he was ordained to the office of high priest. "Rony," as he was always known, has held preaching services at many branches of the church, and his friends in this and surrounding territories are legion. He never failed to see the bright side of any circumstance, no matter how dark things might appear to be, and always even when his heart was heaviest he would try to lighten the burden of others by making a joke. This endearing characteristic has been a great source of comfort to his family during his illness.
Besides the surviving four daughters and one son, he leaves to mourn his passing twelve grandchildren' and twelve great grandchildren.
Rony would want this memorial service to be one of cheerful expectancy and confident faith. He knew the ups and downs of fortune. Never did he permit hard times or seeming frustration of plans to submerge him. Never did he allow later years of reduced activity to make him "?" or soured, in the hopes of the kingdom of God. When in recent months he sensed he would not be restored to active life, he grew in anticipation of the great beyond but never with the idea of hostility to the present life.
Last summer at the Blue union in Michigan I was at Sunday morning. The building was crowded to the doors. As we sang the opening hymn a certain apprehensiveness came to me, and I, wondered if I would be adequate to minister to that large expectant congregation. Then Pauline Frisby, in sure soprano voice sang as if she were speaking to me the aria from Mendelssohn's "Elijah": "Be not afraid-I am he that comforteth. Who art thou that thou shouldst be afraid of a man?" From the infinite source of supply, assurance came to me and I ministered under the Spirit of God. I know the power of this message to the Saints.
Moroni knew this assurance. He leaves us the heritage of a joyful faith, a gospel of glad tidings, and an expectancy, of good things to come. The gospel meant so much that he loved to tell it. He leaves us this assuring slogan: "Be not afraid! Behold thy God! Be of good cheer!"
[Interment was made at Rose Hill Cemetery, Lamoni, Iowa.]
Submission from Denell Burks, Great Granddaughter of Moroni Traxler via daughter Lenore.