Ross Blomgren remembered at B-OPS with personalized bench, plaque
The loss – far too soon – of a child, grandchild, close family member – friend – is heartbreaking and emotionally difficult from which to recover.
Holding close the memories of the one lost can help bridge that valley of grief. This support can be found in photographs, audio or video recordings, stories and accounts – as well as in something real, something tangible that can be seen and touched; through which a continuing connection is experienced.
Under the guidance of Butterfield-Odin Public High School (B-OHS) English teacher Dawn Johnson, the senior class at the school recently commissioned and planned a personalized Memorial Bench in order to create a lasting memory of their late classmate, Ross Isaac Blomgren.
Jeremy Hall of Hall Welding Shop of Butterfield fabricated and designed the permanent memorial.
The designs on the bench join together important pieces from Ross’s life, including – his participation in 4-H and in the organization’s Arts-In at the state level, love of vocal and instrumental music that spanned the generations with his role as a member of the Windom Area Chordhustlers, football and baseball participation, love of Legos and Star Wars, his lead role as Peter Pan from the musical, Peter Pan, performed onstage at B-OHS in spring 2014 when he was a sophomore – and his faith that molded him into the sterling young man he was. The bench paint features a mix of the class colors of royal blue and white – blended colors that sparkle in the sunshine – as Ross himself, sparkled in his own life.
Inside the school, in the lobby next to the gymnasium, a plaque also remembers the late Butterfield-Odin Public School (B-OPS) student. The plaque, which includes Ross’s final school photo, was created by Fairmont Awards.
To raises funds for the bench and plaque memorials, class members sold T-shirts and wristbands dedicated to Ross’s memory.
Ross was just 16-years-old when he was killed in an automobile accident on December 13, 2014, not quite halfway through this junior year in high school. Grieving, but celebrating his life are his parents, Kelly Hanson and Kurt Blomgren; his older siblings, Jenna, Vance and Stuart; his stepfather, Brad Hanson and stepbrothers, Dylan Hanson and Dayton Hanson.
Five seniors integral in the organizing of the Memorial Bench included class officers Hayley Johnson, Mackenzie Blickem and Michelle Perez, along with friends Derek Meyer and Julia Hiebert, who was in the vehicle at the time of the accident and was seriously injured.
All 19 members of the Class of 2016 were proud to call Ross a classmate, and beyond that, a friend.
Hayley, Mackenzie, Michelle, Derek and Julia were able to quickly and easily provide additional one-word descriptive adjectives of their classmate and friend:
Hayley, senior class president, who had known Ross since kindergarten shared that, “Kind,” was the first word that came to her mind.
Another class officer, Michelle, whose friendship with Ross dated back to day care, used “Comical,” as her word for her upbeat classmate.
Mackenzie, a third class officer, who first met Ross in third grade, focused on another positive aspect of Ross’s personality, “Caring.”
For Derek, also a classmate since kindergarten, “Goofy,” was the guy he knew as a friend.
Julia, who was a freshman when she first met Ross, and was in the car at the time of the accident, used the adjective, “Happy. Yes. Happy. Always.”
Since the day of the accident, Ross’s empty chair in classrooms and at concerts has been a part of class reflection. Graduation will include bittersweet memories of the young man with the positively strong personality that is a missing member of the class family.
Though there remains that emptiness feeling in class photos, the Class of 2016 now has a Memorial Bench – firmly anchored in front of the school, as well the plaque in the lobby – as permanent reminders of the uplifting role Ross played in their lives.
Just as Peter Pan – from the tale of the boy who had a never-ending childhood and was able to fly across the sky – so, too, the stories of Ross will continue to fly high through all those he touched during his short time on this earth.
And, the bench in his memory, along with the memorial plaque, will allow his spirit to remain relevant for generations to come.