“I’m blessed,” were the last words he shared.  Friday afternoon.  He told me he was feeling fine and looking forward to going home.  He was speaking through an oxygen mask.  It was his third week in hospital as staff worked to bring his oxygen levels back to normal. 

He would tell people he was vaccinated in Christ.  He didn’t fear death.

I was busy at a political event Saturday.  Earlier in the week, I sent a couple of texts and instant messages.  There wasn’t any response.  On Wednesday afternoon, my telephone rang.  When I saw it was Twin Falls County Commissioner Brent Reinke calling, I had a sinking feeling.  The commissioner introduced me to Coach Pete a few years ago.

Over time, Pete and I became fast friends.  The last time I saw him was over lunch at Black Bear Diner.  It was early August.  He had taken a day off from work and decided to drive to Twin Falls.  He had a new car and offered some buying advice.  A couple of weeks later, he retired.  The first weekend he was free from work he texted pictures from a golf course.  He planned to spend his time volunteering on community and charitable products.

Pete was a very healthy 67.  He would tell people he was vaccinated in Christ.  He didn’t fear death.  He was born to an Austrian prostitute and an American serviceman.  He had a twin brother.  His sibling died as a child.  Because the boys were of mixed race, they were placed in an orphanage.  Later, after his adoption, he was brought to the United States and grew up on a dairy farm.  There were 240 cows he helped milk every morning before school.  His parents were disciplinarians and his dad was a preacher.  He had a learning disability and he needed almost a decade to graduate college.  Yet he persevered.  He was full of life and joy.  His smile was infectious.

He was writing a book about his life and was planning to launch a podcast.  It was going to be a show directed at the young.  Many of whom are struggling with the challenges of modern life.

“How are you, my friend?” he would say when I would answer his calls.  Those who knew the man could say we were blessed.

See Striking Photos of the Tourism Industry During COVID-19

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

Gallery Credit: Hannah Lang


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