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Utahns bid 'Auf Wiedersehen' to slain Border Patrol agent

Published October 12, 2012 2:23 pm

Funeral • Nicholas Ivie, the Provo native who was killed in a friendly fire shooting, is lauded as "perfect" father who "died in service to his country."
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Orem •U.S. Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie was lauded by leaders of his country and his church as a "perfect" father who "died in service to his country" during a Thursday funeral service attended by hundreds at Utah Valley University's UCCU Center.

The Provo native, who was killed in the Oct. 2 near the Arizona-Mexico line in what investigators deemed was an accidental friendly fire shooting, was laid to rest in the Spanish Fork City Cemetery.

"I thank all of the citizens of Utah," said Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "I thank you for lending Nick to us, serving our country's borders."

The funeral was attended by several prominent leaders within Customs and Border Protection, and an entire section of the auditorium floor was filled with law enforcement officers, in and out of uniform, from around the state.

Ivie's flag-draped coffin was brought in behind a color guard and a bagpipe and drum corps from the U.S. Border Patrol.

Among the speakers at Ivie's funeral were his brother and fellow Border Patrol Agent Joel Ivie, who shared stories of growing up with his brother, the youngest of five children. Ivie eventually got a license to drive a semitruck in Utah and was a volunteer EMT and paramedic with the Spanish Fork Fire Department before he joined the Border Patrol.

"He lived a life of service and wanted to help people whenever he could," Joel Ivie said, dressed in full Border Patrol Uniform.

Joel Ivie said his brother was called as a counselor in the bishopric of his local congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about a month before his death. The Sunday before he died, Ivie conducted his first church meeting.

"The next day, Nick would go to work, but he wouldn't return," Joel Ivie said. "The last time I saw Nick, he had gotten up early to go to the park with his girls and wife. ... He was as perfect a father as you could be, and that was just how Nick was."

Ted Stanley lived across the street from Ivie. The two shared their job with the border patrol in common, although Stanley worked at a different station for most of the years he knew Ivie. He remembered Ivie as a devoted father who spent most of his free time outside with his daughters. When the opportunity came for him to be transferred to another station, Stanley requested to go to the Naco, Ariz., just so he could work closer with his friend. They worked together only once, on a horseback patrol.

"That one time was all I needed," Stanley said. "He was so happy."

Ivie rode a mustang that he named Mouse because its ears were rounded after their tips froze off sometime during its life in the wild. Ivie worked patiently to tame that horse and mold it into service with the Border Patrol, said Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Michael Fisher.

Fisher was one of many who spoke directly to Ivie's family, who sat in the front row by Ivie's coffin. His wife Christy held their young daughters Raigan, 3, and Presley, 22 months.

"Your husband died in service to his country, he did so with pride and he did so with distinction," he said.

Elder Erich W. Kopischke, a Seventy in the leadership of the LDS church, spoke on behalf of the church, reading a letter to Ivie's family from the church's First Presidency, the top leadership that includes its president, Thomas S. Monson.

"Because of his testimony of the savior and his thoughtful and sensitive nature, he was able too touch the hearts of countless individuals," Kopischke said, reading from the letter. "We know that the love he had for you and for your beautiful daughters will strengthen you in the days ahead."

A former president of the church's missionaries in Germany, Kopischke spent much of his speech personally addressing Christy Ivie, whom he knew when she served as a missionary there.

The German words for goodbye, "Auf Wiedersehen," literally translate to "until we see each other again," he told her.

"The words, 'Auf Wiedersehen,' include an element of hope," he added, expounding upon the Mormon belief that families can be reunited after death.

"That is our joy, that is our hope, that is our destiny as we say to Nick: 'Auf Wiedersehen,' " Kopischke said.

Ivie was honored at a graveside service that included a 21-gun salute, a flyover by helicopters and two bugles playing taps.

Ivie's riderless horse, Mouse, was led past the casket before Ivie's badge number was read over a radio frequency in an honorary dispatch that declared him "10-7," a police term for "end of watch."

After a graveside prayer by Ivie's father, Douglas, the family sobbed and embraced, speaking to each other words meant only for those closest to them. A stillness in the air gave their mourning a feeling of private sanctity despite the hundreds of family members, friends and strangers who surrounded them.

Christy Ivie, lifted her 3-year-old daughter, Raigan, to the height of her father's casket, where the girl laid a rose before snuggling up to her mother. Others placed their own mementos on the casket.

It was a way of saying goodbye one last time, or at least, "until we meet again."

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kimballbennion