It had only been about eight years since he graduated from the Frazee High School gym when the community gathered once again Thursday to say goodbye to 26-year-old Kyle Quittschreiber. That included rows of DNR officers, deputies, state troopers, police officers, firefighters and rescue workers.
Quittschreiber was a DNR conservation officer and a member of the Vergas Rescue Squad. He died Aug. 24 in a skid steer accident at his rural Frazee home.
"How do you talk about someone who touched the lives of so many people in so many ways?" DNR Col. Rodmen Smith said at the funeral.
"Family was No. 1 for Kyle," he said. "After that were two passions - the outdoors, and a strong desire to help people."
Before he became a DNR conservation officer in early 2016, Quittschreiber worked as a deputy at the Marshall County Sheriff's Office, and his partner, Cody Gillund, said they quickly became friends.
"I remember my first time meeting Kyle," he said. "Sheriff Boman brought Kyle into a deputies meeting to introduce him to all of us. I remember sizing him up and thinking, 'man he looks young.' My first words to him were, 'So do you like to fish?' He answered, 'Oh, Yeah!' I knew then we were going to get along just fine."
Quittschreiber and Gillund spent many days fishing at "The Angle" on Lake of the Woods. "It was so funny when we had to call in to Customs and Border Protection to announce our arrival back to the US.," Gillund said. "I could hear the Customs Officer chuckle when Kyle would say and then spell his last name. Many times the officer would say, 'Ahh, forget it' after Quitt, or ask him 'Is there any letters of the alphabet your last name doesn't have?'"
The two deputies "spent many hours talking about life, our futures and dreams," Gillund said. "Okay, really we mostly talked about boats, guns and Kyle's next purchase from Craigslist. The guy could get free ice from an Eskimo and then sell it back to him for a profit."
Quittschreiber was the fish camp chef and fish cleaner, and he packed the lunchbox each day with pulled pork sandwiches and his favorite dessert, cheesecake. "Problem is," Gillund said, "Kyle could never remember to pack forks, so we were always beaching on an island to find tree branches to make forks to eat cheesecake."
Then there was duck hunting. Gillund was finally talked into coming along to sit with Kyle and "Bear" on Rice Lake. "Five minutes after sunrise I was begging him to get me to the nearest store to buy a license," Gillund said. "However, he was too busy blasting away - and rubbing it in." That trip ended up costing Gillund about $4,000, he said. "I left that Sunday with a duck boat, new shotgun and all the other things I 'needed.' Kyle may have caught more and bigger fish than me, but I always shot more and prettier ducks than him!"
On the street, Gillund said Kyle was a partner that he could always count on. "You knew that if 404 was on, you didn't need to ask him for his help, because he was already there to help. Kyle learned quickly how to deal with people in a compassionate and caring manner, because that is who he was."
Quittschreiber was like a big brother to Gillund's daughter, Courtney. "If Courtney was with us, Kyle's phone battery was automatically diminished by at least 50 percent, because they were taking pictures of each other and then doctoring the images with goofy hair, costumes and the like. The laughter I heard from those two will never be forgotten. Kyle, Courtney loved you and I will never let her forget you."
He thanked Kyle's parents, Kathy and Kevin Quittschreiber of Vergas, "for bringing such a wonderful guy into this world and sharing him with all of us. It is my prayer that my wife and I will raise our daughter to have a tenth of the qualities that Kyle possessed. Know that you treated me and my family like your own, and we will never forget that, nor either of you. We love you!"
He also had kind words for Kyle's sister, Kayla, and his girlfriend Brittney and son Carson.
"I know Kyle loved both of you to the moon and back," he said. "Know that we are here for you. If you look around this room, you will see the support. In this family, no one fights alone."
After the service by Rev. Jacob Wagner, the hearse was escorted by a long line of DNR and law enforcement vehicles to the St. Paul Lutheran Loon Lake Cemetery near Vergas, where Quittschreiber was laid to rest.