Family, friends gather to grieve together
All that could be heard was the soft crunch of gravel and low sobs as three tractors, two bikes and one car slowly rolled into the North Tama Athletic Complex Sunday at noon.
Tragedy struck the North Tama community over the weekend.
Levi Beenken died in a UTV accident Saturday evening. He was 18 and had just graduated from North Tama High School in May.
Gathering during grief
Friends, family and North Tama staff gathered under the heat of the sun to grieve together and remember Beenken the best way they could.
Beenken’s closest friends arrived in a procession which was organized by his friends. One of Beenken’s best friends, Logan Brubaker, drove Beenken’s favorite red Farmall tractor. Another friend drove Beenken’s car.
Beenken was a hard worker who loved anything he could do outside of the classroom related to farming.
He didn’t care too much for school according to a teacher, Rick Samuelson, who had gotten to know Beenken in class, but he absolutely loved farming.
Beenken was a helper, someone who friends and family could call or text and he’d be there to help with chores or whatever anyone needed. He loved hamburgers, chocolate cake and Dr. Pepper.
He was affectionately referred to as a turd and a knucklehead and could even be a bit wild at times but he had a great heart according to adults who knew him.
Superintendent of North Tama Schools, David Hill, told the Telegraph the following about Levi.
“Levi was passionate about agriculture and he intended to pursue a college education in the field of agriculture and make a career in the agriculture profession. He was also the FFA president. The favorite day of school for Levi and many of his friends is the FFA’s “Drive your tractor to school day.” Because we had a drive-through option for our graduation ceremony this past May due to COVID, Levi proudly drove his tractor up to the front of the school to receive his diploma,” Hill said.
Craig Greiner, a local community member, knows all too well the realities of losing a loved one. Greiner’s wife Laurie passed away just two months and three days ago, Sunday.
“Grief sucks,” Greiner said, “It just does. There is no way to grieve that is right or wrong,” said Greiner, “Some days you are going to feel like crying sometimes you are going to feel like laughing.”
Greiner encouraged everyone to talk about Levi, to remember his stories.
“How many stories do you have of this knucklehead. It’s endless. The hours of stories. Sometimes I would just think wow ‘I thought I was wild’.”
Greiner encouraged everyone to lean on one another and lean on God and told everyone, especially the guys that it is okay to cry.
“I couldn’t get through this without God,” Greiner said.
Beenken’s mom, Angie, was present and thanked everyone for showing up.
She shared that her son loved his country, Trump and his tractors.
Angie held up her cell phone to play God Bless the U.S.A. as she felt it appropriate for the moment.
According to the accident report Beenken was driving westbound on Ridge Road when he lost control on a gravel road.
The UTV fish tailed and overcorrected entering the south ditch. The UTV overturned upon entering the ditch, ejecting Beenken. The vehicle came to rest on him.
There were two passengers with Beenken both whom were uninjured.
Grief is a sneaky thing. It surprises a person. It comes and goes as time marches forward. There usually are no words to comfort a person dealing with loss but people need other people especially as time goes on.
“When the crowds fade, I’ll be out for a hug,” Greiner said to Angie.
A visitation and funeral service for Beenken are tentatively scheduled in September.