SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — Emotion overcame Joel Ivie Monday as he spoke about his fallen brother and fellow U.S. Border Patrol agent from the same pulpit where Nicholas J. Ivie had conducted LDS Church services eight days earlier.
"The Sunday before Nick died, he stood here," he said, pausing to gather himself. He then talked about the exemplary life his younger brother lived.
"His life has been an example to all of us," said Joel Ivie, who encouraged his youngest brother to join him on the Border Patrol. "He's as close to Christ as one can become."
Funeral services were held Monday for Nick Ivie who died in the line of duty last week. It was the first of two services this week for the Border Patrol agent and Provo native, whose body will be returned to Utah for burial.
Dozens of Border Patrol agents on horseback lined the streets as the funeral procession made its way to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse. A single bagpiper and color guard on horseback led the procession. One agent led a riderless horse behind the white hearse.
The chair in which Nick Ivie sat on Sundays as second counselor in the Sierra Vista 2nd Ward bishopric was also left open during the funeral as a tribute to him.
About 30 members of the Ivie family from Utah have been with the fallen agent's wife, Christy, and their two young daughters since the shooting last Tuesday.
Ivie, 30, was shot to death in rugged terrain near the Mexican border as three agents responded to an alarm that was triggered by a sensor aimed at detecting smugglers. A second agent was wounded. Investigators says Ivie died as a result of friendly fire. He opened fire first and wounded one of the other agents he apparently mistook as an armed smuggler, but was killed in the return fire.
"Nick died in a beautiful place," said Joel Ivie, who as a Border Patrol agent knows the mountainous area near Bisbee, Ariz., well.
"Sometimes I have to wonder why Nick was taken at this time," he said. "But then I also think Nick was such a great man that he was ready to enter the kingdom of God."
Nick Ivie was described as a loving husband and father and a man who put others before himself. He was known in his neighborhood as "that guy who is always playing with his kids."
"If Nick were here, he'd say, 'Guys, I'm taken care of. Just take care of my girls, my wife and my family,'" Joel Ivie said.
Bishop Spencer Forsberg did not know Nick Ivie before calling him to serve as a second counselor less than two month ago. But he saw in him a "warm smile, loving eyes, love for his children and a desire to serve others."
"He had the light of Christ in his eyes and His image in his countenance," he said.
"We are all better people for having known Nick," Bishop Forsberg said. "Let's keep the tradition going by trying to be a little better each day."
Sierra Vista Stake President Kevin Goates said trials are part of God's plan for people on earth and no one is immune.
"We come to this earth to learn to walk by faith, choose the right and be tested," he said. "I declare that Nicholas Ivie passed the test of this mortal existence."
President Goates said Jesus taught people to love another and "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
"Nick has demonstrated this greater love," he said.
Nick Ivie's body will return to Utah on Tuesday about 9:30 p.m. A law enforcement processional is scheduled for the tarmac at the Salt Lake City International Airport to transport Ivie to a mortuary.
A second funeral will be held Thursday at 11 a.m at the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University in Orem. It is open to the public. Ivie will be buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.