“I love you — and I beat you to it.”
That was Elder Rex D. Pinegar’s “signature phrase” — nine words that captured his Christ-centered life and playful endearment to his family and loved ones. It was a phrase he used often, right up to his death on June 24, 2021, at age 89.
Family members, fellow general authorities, fellow sailors and veterans and many friends gathered Saturday, July 17, at Utah’s Mt. Olympus Stake Center for Elder Pinegar’s funeral. His passing brings tears and grief, but the memories of his devotion to his faith and his family marked Saturday’s gathering as a celebration of a life well lived.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided at the service and shared concluding remarks. Each of Elder Pinegar’s six children also participated in the program.
“It’s an honor to speak on this occasion in tribute to someone who is so accomplished, spiritually and otherwise, and has been an influence in my life, as I’m sure he has been in yours,” Elder Christofferson said.
He remembered meeting Elder Pinegar when the former was a law student at Duke University in North Carolina. At the time, Elder Pinegar was serving concurrently as a mission president and a member of the First Council of the Seventy and was participating in a meeting with young D. Todd Christofferson and others in a North Carolina leadership meeting.
“I remember being very impressed with him; I said this is somebody to watch,” said Elder Christofferson.
Years later, in 1993, when Elder Christofferson was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Pinegar was the senior president in the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Pinegar’s capacity and leadership were essential at a moment in the Church when the global role of the Seventies quorums “was tremendously expanded and became what it is today.”
Such expansion was made possible, in part, “because of the foundation laid by Rex D. Pinegar,” said Elder Christofferson.
Like the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Seventies have a special responsibility to represent Jesus Christ and help establish His gospel across the world, he added. “That is indeed what [the Seventies] do — and what Elder Pinegar did so admirably well.”
Elder Christofferson testified of the Resurrection and the blessings of eternity — all made available through Jesus Christ.
“I recognize that the great legacy that Rex and [his wife] Bonnie Pinegar have left in this world, besides the influence for good they have had on so many lives, is their family,” he concluded. “And I invoke the Lord’s blessings upon each of you who form part of that legacy.”
Following Elder Christofferson’s remarks, his associate in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, read a letter from the First Presidency to the Pinegar family.
“We rejoice with you in his life of devoted service,” the letter said. “Elder Pinegar’s life was a model of diligence and hard work. He demonstrated love for the Lord throughout his life as he spent time in selfless service to family and fellow men.
“He leaves a great legacy of hard work, personal integrity and dedication to righteous living. His devotion as a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and stalwart servant of the Lord influenced the lives of loved ones — and all with whom he came in contact.”
The First Presidency letter — signed by President Russell M. Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — also saluted Elder Pinegar’s decades of Church service and offered assurance that he had been reunited with his wife, Sister Bonnie Pinegar.
“Although there is no substitute for the love of a devoted father, we pray that your knowledge of the gospel will bring you peace, and that you will receive the comforting influence of the Holy Spirit at this tender time of parting,” the letter said.
Sister Pinegar died earlier this year.
During Saturday’s funeral, the Pinegars’ daughter, Lisa Pinegar Nelson, delivered a “sketch” of her father’s rich life. She recounted young Rex’s life growing up in a large Utah County family, his embracing the blessings of the gospel and, as a young man, enlisting in the United States Navy and serving during the Korean War.
After his discharge from the service he enrolled at Brigham Young University, signalling his professional future as an educator. He also married Bonnie Lee Crabb, a “little neighbor girl” from his hometown.
“He absolutely adored her — and let everyone know it,” said Lisa Pinegar Nelson.
Elder Pineger became a general authority while still a relatively young man. But despite the demands of his ecclesiastical duties, he always made time to be with his family. He taught his children and grandchildren the principles of the gospel with beloved zeal.
“He was truly a Christlike man,” she said.
Elder Pinegar’s other five children focused their respective remarks Saturday on their father’s “defining qualities.”
Suzanne Pinegar Wadsworth highlighted Elder Pinegar’s faith.
The Pinegar children, she said, could ask their dad about virtually anything. “And somehow, he could answer all our questions — and he never seemed to tire of them”
Shelley Pinegar Peterson highlighted Elder Pinegar’s service. From the time she was a little girl, she watched her father serve others and serve the Church. She watched him care for others and minister to strangers.
“And Dad always took time, in our own journeys, to stop and help us,” she said.
Daughter Kristen Pinegar King highlighted her father’s belief in prayer.
Throughout her life, she discovered comfort at difficult moments because she knew her parents were on their knees asking for the Lord’s blessings on her behalf.
“Prayer was the bedrock of my father’s life,” she said.
Amy Pinegar Robinson highlighted Elder Pinegar’s humility.
She remembered her father always being the same person — regardless of the setting or the people in that setting. He could speak to a large audience, yet never fail to see “the one” in the crowd in need of a smile or an encouraging word.
“Humility was my dad’s default setting,” she said.
Son Kevin Rex Pinegar highlighted Elder Pinegar’s discipleship.
“My father’s discipleship was shaped by faith, humility, loyalty and brotherly love,” he said.
Whenever Kevin Pinegar was given a new Church calling he reached out to his father for advice. Elder Pinegar’s counsel was always the same: “Treat people as if they are doing their very best.”
Following Saturday’s funeral service, Elder Pinegar was buried at the Memorial Holladay Cemetery with military honors.