After 1 year, death still stings

Published 9:23 am Thursday, August 14, 2008

At least six out of seven days of the week, Albert Lean Scott Truesdell makes it a priority to visit his son.

Though he may be buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Albert Lea, his son, Ryan “Pie” Truesdell, remains an example of a kind, fun-loving athlete who was loved by everyone who knew him.

Today, a year after his death on Aug. 14, 2007, his gravestone is still surrounded by memorabilia from family and friends.

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On one end of his gravestone is a pair of wind chimes with a Hawaiian lei and a baseball hat. On the other is a planter with an American flag, two monkeys, several plaques and a Mountain Dew can. Ryan always had a can of Mountain Dew in his hand.

“There are still no words for losing him,” the father said. And now just as much as ever, there’s many unanswered questions about the events surrounding his death.

Ryan, 20, died from being trapped in a grain bin on the east site of the Glenville Grain Elevator. Glenville Grain was later fined $26,500 in penalties for violations found in connection with his death.

It was Ryan’s last week on the job, which he had taken to earn money for his third year at Rochester Community Technical College, where he was studying physical education and health.

He was a youth known in the community for his athleticism, specifically for being voted to the Big Nine All-Conference Baseball Team during his junior and senior year at Albert Lea High School.

His jersey was retired at Rochester Community Technical College this year, where he played on the baseball team.

“He was loved by everyone in southern Minnesota,” his sister, Celina Drescher, said. “I don’t know anyone who didn’t.

“He was a very kind person. He had a big heart. He would have done anything for anyone, even if he didn’t know you well.”

She said though she has finally started to accept her brother’s death, it has not become any easier during the last year.

“He was a good person to everyone,” Celina’s son, Jordan, said. “He was a role model, a good athlete and a good friend.”

Jordan, who was the ball fetcher for Ryan’s varsity baseball team at Albert Lea High School for three years, said Ryan was his hero.

He said he will always remember the times they went camping together with the rest of their family.

Ryan Moore, one of Ryan’s friends, said Ryan always brought joy to everyone he was around.

“Ryan had a great way of just getting the most joy out of the smallest thing,” Moore said. “He was a great person who exemplified enjoying the smallest things and bringing that joy to others.”

Chad Sorenson, another one of Ryan’s friends, said he remembers back when Ryan was in high school and he would come over to the Sorenson house and hang out with his brother in their basement.

“He was always just a good guy — part of the family,” Sorenson said. “He was over quite a bit. He was like a relative almost.”

He said Ryan was a person who always spoke what was on his mind and wasn’t afraid to tell you what he thought.

“He was always there for my brother,” Sorenson said. “He was my brother’s best friend.”

In the time leading up to the one-year anniversary of his son’s death, Scott said his life has “been like a big fuse of a bomb getting ready to go off.”

As long as he stays busy, he’s OK, but “when I sit that’s when hell begins,” he said.

Despite the anger and the sadness he still feels as a result of Ryan’s death, Scott said there are small miracles that happen all the time that let him know that Ryan is still watching over him.

When he’s at the cemetery next to Ryan’s gravestone on a day with no wind, the chimes begin to sound, which Scott says is just a signal that Ryan is still around.

Even recently he has run across some good luck with lottery tickets thanks to Ryan, Scott said.

To celebrate Ryan’s life, he is helping to plan the First Memorial Ryan “Pie” Truesdell Softball Tournament for the weekend of Sept. 12 through 14.

Events will kick off Sept. 12 with a softball game challenge between the Albert Lea City Council and city staff versus the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners and county staff.

Then on Sept. 13 there will be softball and volleyball tournaments, with prizes awarded. Register by Sept. 10 by calling (507) 318-0932 or (763) 226-1373. Events will take place rain or shine.