Mower County community comes together for Tess

Published 10:02 am Friday, March 8, 2013

As people drive by the big cross between Rose Creek and Adams, they’ll always think of Tess Landherr. Even without that cross, though, they will never forget her. Nearly everybody in the community knew her.

Tess, of Rose Creek, died Wednesday, Feb. 27, in a car crash. She was 16.

Tess Landherr gets set during a Southland High School volleyball game earlier this school year. --Submitted

Tess Landherr gets set during a Southland High School volleyball game earlier this school year. –Submitted

Tess, who was born on Aug. 22, 1996, in Austin, was exuberant. That’s how Tess’ first-hour world history teacher Ethan Riggin repeatedly described her. He echoed the same positive words others said about the Southland High School junior. He saw her every morning at the beginning of school. Many high-schoolers are still dragging their feet and half asleep in first hour, but that wasn’t Tess.

Email newsletter signup

“She was ready to go,” he said.

She would poke fun at people, but only in a kind-hearted, easy-going way.

“That was who Tess was, full of life, full of energy, excitement,” Riggin added.

Energy. That’s the word Tess’ mother, Kimberly Landherr, often uses to describe her daughter. Since age 4, Tess was hooked on dancing.

“Dance was her life,” Kimberly said.

This school year, Tess got to be a member of Southland High School’s first-ever dance line, in which she received all-conference honors. If she wasn’t dancing herself, she was helping other youngsters in the Just for Kix dance program, in which she also participated for nearly 13 years. For her senior project, she was going to put up mirrors at the Just for Kix dance studio in Adams. Now the community will carry on her vision in her memory, and a fund will be set up for donations at the Farmers State Bank in Adams.

Tess played volleyball, softball, and before Southland had a dance team, she played basketball, too. She played percussion in band and was on the prom committee. During the summer, she was a lifeguard at the local pool, which is just another way that showed how Tess wanted to help people. She wanted to donate blood at an upcoming blood drive for her first time but never got the chance. Now that blood drive, among several other events, will be held in her memory. The drive will be from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Southland High School auditorium.

“She always found the good in everybody,” Kimberly said.

People didn’t often catch her at a bad moment, and she was a loyal friend. They remember her uplifting smile and are showering her Facebook memory page with positivity.

“They all talk about her smile,” Kimberly said. “Her smile, she was always there for people with anything, always bouncy and full of spirit.”

Riggin added, “When you have a small-town community like Southland, you have a graduation class of 50. It really becomes a family.”

Kimberly said the entire Southland community has come together for Tess.

Along with her mother, Tess is survived by her father, Joseph; brothers, Kelvin and Cameron; grandparents; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, and an entire community.

“She was just that happy girl,” Kimberly said. “Everyone loved to be around Tess. … They all say there’s a sassy little angel up in heaven now.”