One of my students died last night.

Willem was an 18 year old kid who was unfailingly polite with a moppy blond afro that belied his brave, goofy spirit. He died from an accident in his home. It wasn’t a suicide.

He was set to give a persuasive speech about the effects of outsourcing for my current affairs class. Knowing him, it would have been idealistic, while at the same time a bit cynical and frank. Willem was still working out a worldview for himself, like most high school seniors are. I’ll miss getting to hear his thoughts.

My favorite memory of him was a couple years ago when my school reserved a section at a Twins game so students and staff could go together. Willem was from the Netherlands, and had only been in the States for a couple months, so he was totally lost watching baseball. I got to sit by him and explain balls and strikes and the rules of the game to him until he left during the 7th. It was a fun night for me. The next day, he asked, “Who won the match, Mr. Welle?”. I told him, “They’re called games, Willem, and the Twins lost, so you should act more bummed out.”

I’ve been thinking about that night a lot this morning.

If you think of it today, pray for Willem’s family and friends, that they can make some sense out of this.

Thanks guys.

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7 Responses to Willem.

  1. matt says:

    Peter, I have heard the news and your entry is a good way to remember his life. I only knew Willem a little bit, but what I knew of him he was a great person and his life and death should serve as a reminder to all of us to not take for granted how precious life is. My thoughts go out to everyone at ISM.

  2. peter says:

    Thanks for the thoughts, Matt. I’m glad you heard the news.

    Hope you’re good, buddy.

  3. Christine says:

    Oh, Peter, this must be unbearable for everyone. I’m so sorry. I’ll be praying for your school, and for Willem’s friends and family.

  4. Ted says:

    I will be sure to offer a pray for all. How you holding up Peter?

  5. Adam says:

    Wow. Thanks for writing this.

  6. peter says:

    I feel really sad, basically. I’m glad the school day is done now. I don’t want to make it any more dramatic than it is – I just feel so bad for his family. I’ve been praying a lot throughout the day, which has been a comfort.

  7. peter says:

    Apparently Willem’s death was a result of his intentionally choking himself while he was alone to get a euphoric high.


    Sad, awful stuff.

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