By Bruce Karnick [email protected] These kinds of stories are never easy to write, especially when the title person is known to the author. I knew Toby Rowan well in High School. Toby and I …
By Bruce Karnick
These kinds of stories are never easy to write, especially when the title person is known to the author. I knew Toby Rowan well in High School. Toby and I attended Hastings schools together from middle school on up, we even shared the same exact birthday, September 30th, but this is where the story takes you, the reader, on an unexpected twist.
We never got along. In fact, we fought, a lot. Yes, fist fights kind of fighting. The odd part of that statement is, I don’t even remember why, and honestly, I don’t even care why. What I care about is what has happened to Toby since then, but first, I am going to take you back to our last fight. It was outside Jarl Olsen’s classroom which was near Mick Pauletti’s room as well. We walked out of class and again, no idea why, we were fighting. A few punches were thrown, and Toby managed to get me in a head lock and then I somehow ended up with my head between his legs like he was setting me up for a piledriver. I remember him using some kind of forearm smash on my back and me laughing hysterically because it did not hurt, he was laughing because I was punching back but I couldn’t get any power behind the punches with the position he had me in, and then BOOM!
Pauletti tackled Toby into the locker and Olsen had a hold of me. I remember it vividly because of the shock on both of our faces. Toby and I were not small, yet both teachers picked us up and pinned us against the lockers like we were rag dolls. Olsen had me by the scruff of my shirt, holding me by one arm about a foot and a half off the ground. Pauletti had Toby in the same manner with both arms. That is when we looked at each other, smiled and gave each other a nod, and we never fought again.
We were cordial to each other after that, even nice to each other. A few years back, Toby popped up as a friend suggestion on Facebook, and it got me thinking. Maybe I should reach out to him and have an adult conversation with the guy, maybe we could be friends. I am not sure why I never did, and now, I won’t get that chance.
In the 400+ words written so far; you are probably wondering what the point of this story is.
I’d like to say the Hallmark ending happened and we became best of friends, but it didn’t. We were cordial to each other after that, even nice to each other, but that was it. A few years back, Toby popped up as a friend suggestion on Facebook, and it got me thinking. Maybe I should reach out to him and have an adult conversation with the guy, maybe we could be friends. I am not sure why I never did, and now, I won’t get that chance.
In the 400+ words written so far; you are probably wondering what the point of this story is. See, Toby Rowan grew up, found happiness, created a family and a life like we all hope to do, but he did more, he became a first responder, a Paramedic. Toby worked with the Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia MN, saving lives and helping people. He found his purpose in life.
On January 7th, 2021, that all came to a sudden end. Toby was on the scene of a medical call when he collapsed and later died from a heart attack. He died while trying to save a life. Sadly, his efforts and the efforts of his team were not enough, both the patient and Rowan would both not survive the day.
As classmates learned of Toby’s passing, people began to post their own recollection of him, his smile and the friend that he was. The biggest take- away that could be found was his love of his family and his passion for his work helping people. He found happiness.
I am writing this the morning Toby Rowan will be laid to rest, January 14th, 2021 in a small ceremony attended only by close family due to COVID-19 restrictions. The State of Minnesota will join in honoring Toby Rowan thanks to an order from the governor.
Governor Tim Walz has directed all flags at state and federal buildings in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Thursday, January 14, 2021, in honor of Paramedic Toby Lee Rowan, who died on January 7, 2021, while in the course of providing life-saving treatment to a member of the community. The State of Minnesota recognizes Paramedic Rowan for his dedicated service to, and sacrifice for, his fellow citizens.
Individuals, businesses, and other organizations are also encouraged to join in lowering their flags in honor of Paramedic Rowan and first responders who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty in the State of Minnesota.
Rowan’s service will be streamed for others to watch as it should be. Many will join, many will grieve, me, I’m giving that same smile and nod to the skies today that we shared back in school. A nod of respect.