By Kristen Miller
In time for the one year anniversary of the death of their son Kristofor, Bob and Sandy Tanner made sure they and those who loved him had a place to reflect on Kristofor’s life in the very place it ended.
Kristofor died Sept. 30 2013, around 7:10 a.m. at the age of 23 after his vehicle struck a semi along Highway 12 east of Dassel.
Though no autopsy was done, the family believes he had fallen asleep after working all night as a project manager on a flooring job at Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Twin Cities. He also reported not feeling well earlier. They have ruled out texting as a factor.
Bob also remembers a first responder on the scene who described his son as being “at rest.” This gave them the assurance that their son was at peace.
Though their son’s life was taken unexpectedly that day, the Tanners don’t refer to it as a “tragedy.”
“He went home to be with the Lord. There is nothing tragic about that,” Bob said.
“We are awfully sad,” Sandy said, but what keeps them strong is knowing the number of people “who have come to know the Lord from hearing his story,” Bob added.
Kristofor’s sister, Taborah, is attending Moody Bible Camp in Spokane, WA and is a youth leader at a church there. She has the opportunity to share her brother’s story just about every week, which has changed lives.
She shares how, although Kristofor was walking with the Lord when he passed away, there was a stretch before that when he hadn’t.
“God has brought about more in his death, than through his life,” Taborah said. “There probably have been 30 kids who have come to know Jesus through his story.”
What she said is most inspiring to others is how she and her family can find joy and hope through all the sadness that comes from death. She can tell his story without being angry.
Oftentimes, when people lose a loved one so unexpectedly, they lose all joy and hope.
Her Christian faith gives her hope and joy, she said. “I see them realize that there is hope in even tough situations and the Lord changes their lives,” she commented.
A place to remember Kristofor
After Kristofor’s death, the family had his body cremated.
Since they didn’t have a plot for him that they could visit, the family decided to make a permanent memorial.
They chose the bike path near the accident site. “What better place than where he went to be with the Lord,” Sandy said.
As a family, they also spent a lot of time on the bike path. “It seemed like a fitting thing to do,” she commented.
Sandy thought a bench would make for a nice memorial. She had seen similar benches at Trout Lake Camp, where Kristofor had worked as a camp counselor. The camp takes kids on adventures in mountain biking, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. “He really enjoyed it,” she said.
“As a family, we wanted to do something to honor our son’s memory and provide a place at the accident site where we and the community could stop and reflect on our son’s life and also on the lives of other loved ones,” said Sandy.
This is also the family’s way of saying “thank you” to the community for supporting them in their time of grief, and celebrating in Kristofor’s life.
The family helped in building the bench, which includes a customized plaque with Kristofor’s picture engraved on it, which was made by his brother, Paul.
Scholarship fund set up
Inspired by the support that the Hall family has seen through the annual Mileka’s Run in Silver Lake, which raises scholarship funds in honor of the Halls’ late daughter, the Tanners decided to set up a fund in honor of Kristofor.
“We want to provide a way for people to contribute to the memory of our son,” Sandy said.
Just before Kristofor died, he decided that God was calling him into adventure camp leadership.
“With this memorial scholarship fund, we hope to keep that dream alive for Kristofor,” Sandy said.
Last summer, Kristofor’s fund provided camp scholarships to nine children.