The Eclectic Quill

April 11, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 8:22 am

Kevin Heisinger was a truly nice man; one of the nicest I’ve ever known. He was they type of guy that would take you to lunch with his last ten dollars and go hungry himself if you let him. He was always putting others before himself, and he was actually a happier person that way.

Kevin was one of the kids I used to spend time with in my job as a minister. We used to have lunch together, or occasionally go to a Christian conference together. Kevin exemplified the Christian life, loving the Lord, and living without hypocrisy. He was a happy man, always ready to laugh but never to condemn. I nick-named him “Alto” because he was “high singer” and he loved it. He was so nice he could even enjoy a bad joke!

Kevin wasn’t just kind, he was exceptionally bright as well. He was valedictorian at his St. Louis High School. Being Kevin he didn’t want to use his talents to make a lot of money and have an outstanding career, he wanted to help people, especially the most challenged people, those afflicted with mental conditions. That’s why he majored in Psychological Services at Northwestern University. Wanting to specialize in the homeless with psychological conditions he went up to Ann Arbor one weekend to visit the University of Michigan campus where he was planning to go to graduate school for a Masters in Social Services. He took a Greyhound bus.

On Sep 5, 2006 Kevin was on his way home when the bus stopped at a rest area. Kevin went to use the restroom. There, a man named Brian Williams, a diagnosed schizophrenic who was literally “off his meds” was told by the voices in his head to “stop him.” Williams was a huge man and when he started to beat Kevin those around were paralyzed, failing to do anything. No one even called out for the police. After several minutes a nine year old boy, who came in and saw what was happening ran to get the police. Within 19 seconds of being notified the police were then and Williams fled. He was apprehended two blocks away. It was too late for Kevin though. He died in a pool of his own blood in a rest area in the middle of nowhere Michigan.

Since then they’ve passed a law in Michigan called “Kevin’s Law” which allows the court in certain cases to compel a person to come to court and take there medications in front of a judge. The tragedy and irony of Kevin’s death are heart-wrenching, even as he died at the hands of the kind of person he wanted to help, his death served to help them. The day I received the news though there was no Kevin’s law, there was only grief.

I kept “living” the moment. In my imagination I became Kevin, fighting off my attacker; I became the witnesses, running immediately to get the police, or calling out for them; I became an advocate for Kevin, yelling to the bystanders to do something. Yet no matter how many times I tried to change the history by living it in my head, it never went away. Over time I just grew to accept the tragedy of Kevin’s death.

Adenhart’s similarly tragic death reminded me of Kevin. Forget about the baseball, about his career and all of that. He was a young person, on the threshold of life, about to enjoy its promise, when he was suddenly, tragically and violently taken from his friends and family. My hearts and prayers don’t go out to the “entire Angels Organization” they go out to his friends, his teammates, his companions. Such tragedies remind us that these aren’t “heroes;” that this isn’t just “business.” Our favorite players, our looked to prospects, even our scapegoats are people. Sometimes it takes tragedy to remind us of that. Seeing the mourners on the mound, holding up Adenhart’s jersey yesterday poignantly hit me how young these kids are. And here they are on a national TV stage, trying to make sense of that which makes none, and deal with their most human grief.

Over time the players will get back to the daily grind of baseball, gradually the pain will heal into a scar. Occasionally they will reminisce and ponder what could of been. Adenhart will always be a part of their lives in some small way. I just hope that we, as fans, don’t lose sight of the lesson to be learned here, that these are people, real people, struggling in a world we don’t understand. It just takes something so tragic, so ordinarily tragic as death, for us to be able to identify with them.



  1. Not only a tribute to your friend, but you’ve caputured an important lesson for us all … one that we seem to lose during our normal day. Thank you!

    Comment by Frank — April 16, 2009 @ 6:40 am | Reply

  2. damn shame what happened to both of those men

    glad you remember them and honor them

    we should never fotget

    Comment by 3rdStoneFromTheSun — April 24, 2009 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

  3. Kelly-
    For strange reasons tonight I came across this blog. I read through your tribute to Kevin and cried, for one that I found something like this that someone wrote about him so recently and for two that he died so horrifically. I was in elementary school with Kevin and middle school and high school. Just thought that you might want to know that when we were only in about third grade Kevin and I would talk about Jesus, it was during that year that he told me he had read the entire bible! I’m so glad to know that his heart belonged to Jesus and I’m glad he had friends like you to honor him and keep his memory alive. God Bless

    Comment by Shannon Missey — April 27, 2009 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

    • Shannon,

      I hope you get to read this. I want to sincerely thank you for your comment. I’m glad you had the privilege of knowing Kevin.

      Comment by kelly — April 28, 2009 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

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