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Monte S. Nyman, dead at 81, remembered by Elder Holland, others

Published: Friday, Oct. 7 2011 3:45 p.m. MDT

OREM — Mormon scholar and longtime BYU professor Monte S. Nyman, who wrote "Great Are the Words of Isaiah" and 11 other books, died Sept. 30 at the age of 81.

"He and Isaiah are in a deep conversation as we speak," Elder Jeffrey R. Holland wrote in a letter read Friday at Nyman's funeral.

Elder Holland was BYU's president for part of Nyman's tenure, and now is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Holland was unable to attend the funeral, but in his letter said he had loved and admired Nyman for more than 40 years and that Nyman was always a beacon of light to him. He joked that he and Nyman used to argue over who loved the Book of Mormon more.

Nyman taught religion at BYU for more than 30 years, coached baseball at Southern Virginia University and served as SVU's president from 2003-04.

He was a beloved teacher, coach, family member and friend, and the cars spilling out of the parking lot and onto the surrounding streets to accommodate all those who attended his funeral were evidence of that.

Speakers said those who think Nyman, who died after a long battle with cancer, will always remembers his humility, his warm spirit and profound knowledge of the gospel.

The service began with each of Nyman's children remembering some of their favorite memories of their beloved father.

Daughter Dessie Mitchell remembered all the sports her dad coached while she played, and an especially memorable ping-pong game. She had finally beaten him and was right in the middle of her victory dance when Nyman said, "I'm not bad for a lefty." He was right-handed.

Son-in-law Darren Smith referred to how Nyman had welcomed all the in-laws with open arms and compared his life to a baseball game, a sport Nyman loved.

"He mastered the playbook, the Book of Mormon," Smith said. "He never spoke ill of anyone. He was a loyal teammate. He taught as great coaches do, not by telling but by showing, not by instructing but by doing."

EMAIL: sgambles@desnews.com

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