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Letter: Dickinson helpful in time of tragedy

Two weeks ago an event transpired that we could have never foreseen.

When my wife and I received the news, we knew things probably wouldn't end well, but we held out hope. Thirty three hours after we received word that our daughter and her friends were missing, we found out what happened and our world came crashing down. Denial, rage, pain... we felt it all. We still do. But through it all, our friends helped us. What friends?

We have many friends in and around San Diego, and they have been a huge help. But we also made friends in Dickinson. Even before this tragedy, we were blessed with the friendship of strangers that helped us settle our daughter in college far away from home. Whether it was the staff at the Dakota Lodge, the informative greeter at Wal-Mart, or Wanda at Subway who kindly donated brick blocks to elevate Kyrstin's bed, Dickinson has reminded us of the heartland community spirit difficult to find in big cities.

The friendships expanded and grew when we arrived in Dickinson two weeks ago. From our initial sheriff's briefing, to constant updates by Hal Haynes and the Dickinson State University staff the next couple of days, we were constantly attended to. Whether looked after by officials for whom it was their job, or regular townsfolk who went out of their way to help, the friendly spirit warmed our hearts.

So we'd like to close with a thank you. Sheriff Tuhy, deputies, search and rescue teams, Capt. Stenberg and his department who took over the case, and Haynes, Roger Ternes, and the DSU staff. You were all professional, compassionate and understanding during this difficult time.

Thanks to the softball and baseball team coaches and players. Specific thanks to Pam at Superior Cleaners and Laundry, Nancy at the UPS Store, Andrew Keller at KFYR-TV, Dustin Monke and Ashley Martin at The Dickinson Press, Detective Chris Coates, Jim and Gary Ladbury, and three ladies at Applebee's who offered to buy our last dinner in Dickinson.

Cole "Z-MAN" Zamira, for creating a song that brought together the student body. Your song was played at both Ashley and Kyrstin's memorials, bringing tears to many eyes.

Dickinson, you have a special community, brought closer together through this tragedy. Thank you for your support. Claire and I are humbled to call you friends.

To DSU, remember that "Hawks soar together!"

Lenny and Claire Gemar, San Diego