By Gunther Anderson
I never met Brian Stice. It almost feels like revealing a shameful secret, putting that into words, because it seems as though everyone around me knew and loved Brian whereas I never even heard him speak. To this day, I often wonder what his voice sounded like. As emotionally trying as it was for me to respond to the accident that took his life, where all I could really do was grant him as much dignity and respect as necessity would allow, I can only imagine how much greater the pain of his passing, how much more keenly felt his loss must have been and must continue to be for those who knew him.
There is a memorial now, in his memory, at the Pinnacle Foods facility in Fort Madison, Iowa. Surrounded by Sempervivum flowers, a Japanese Maple shades an etched granite plaque bearing his name, likeness, and a four-line poem composed by a coworker and friend. So much said in so few words, it is the line “quietly remembered, everyday” that speaks to me the most. It has been over two years since his passing, yet not a single week goes by that I don’t hear his name from someone. I have heard stories of his thoughtfulness and generosity, of his hard-working nature and his humility. Though I never met him, I remember him, quietly, every day. Though I never met him, I feel that through those who did I have come to know him anyway, if only a little.
Since shortly after the accident that claimed his life, his coworkers, union brothers and sisters, have worked with the company to put this tribute in place. His former teammates pooled their resources to select and purchase the tree and the flowers, whose name means “forever alive”; a fitting choice for this young man who will never perish from our memories. After the design for the marker was finalized, it was the company who insisted on covering its cost.
Though the tree and the stone are displayed in his honor, this memorial is not for him. It is for us. This memorial is a reminder to everyone who passes it to endeavor to live their life as well as he did. Two years later, he is still regularly spoken of with respect and fondness. We should all hope to leave such a lasting impression in the hearts and thoughts of those who know us. Even those who won’t know us until after we are gone.