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Trinity Senior Class gathers for memorial tribute to classmate

Press Photo by Linda Sailer Rev. Todd Kreitinger blesses the graveside and leads a memorial service for Zachary Arthaud on Tuesday at St. Joseph's Cemetery. The Trinity High School Senior Class, family and friends, surround the grave.

With an icy breeze blowing across the prairie and several horses standing nearby, family and friends of Zachary Arthaud gathered Tuesday morning in St. Joseph's Cemetery to remember and celebrate his life.

Zachary was only 8 years old when he died Sept. 7, 2004, in an automobile accident, and yet his life has touched so many.

The Trinity High School Senior Class has met annually at the cemetery to remember their classmate. This was to be their final tribute as a group.

"He was my best friend," said classmate Austin Deichert. "We were the fastest kids in class and I remember we raced at recess and I beat him and he got mad. It's weird. I know if he were still here today, we'd be playing varsity sports like football and basketball and probably the track team."

Another friend, Kevin Berger, described Zachary as a brother to him.

"We hung out every day, he was one of my closest friends," Berger said.

"I transferred to Lincoln Elementary and he was still going to St. Pat's. The day I found out he passed away, I broke out crying in the middle of class... I come out here in the middle of the night when I need someone to talk to. He has always been there as a friend and he always will be."

Zachary's parents, Jody and Carla Arthaud, his sisters, Stephanie and Kendra and little brother, Andy, appreciate those sentiments.

"Every year when we're all together, I feel how important Zachary was to all of us and how he touched so many lives in that short amount of time," Carla said.

She expressed appreciation to his classmates for arranging the memorial service. As a final token before their graduation, Carla presented each classmate with a sweatshirt embossed with a cross designed by Zachary. In turn, the THS football team gave the Arthauds an autographed football and Titan jersey with No. 1 on it.

"Zachary liked all sports," Carla said. "He loved baseball, he loved basketball, he loved them all."

As Rev. Todd Kreitinger blessed the grave, he said, "Once again, we revisit this site and entrust him to the Heavenly Father. We comfort each other in sorrow and with reassurances of our faith, our hope and love that one day we will be reunited with Zachary."