To the editor:

When events occur which provoke thought and conversation on the topic of life and death, we are often left asking the question, “Why?” ...

I have asked my questions —both in silence and out loud — since learning the heart-wrenching news of Joel Thomas Schuster’s untimely passing ...

However, I am not writing this public letter to share memories, try to answer questions or to send my condolences to all those he touched.

Instead, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to Tom and Jean Schuster for bringing Joel into this world and raising him the best you knew how.

Thank you, Joel for being the most influential peer — aside from my wife — in my entire life. There is so much of who I am today that I contribute, at least in part, to knowing you.

Thank you, Joel, for introducing me to the finer things in life.

Our initial common bond was a love for sports and while we spent a considerable amount of time bandying about a myriad of sports topics, it was you who introduced me to appreciate a good cup of joe (which I have been known to refer to as a cup of Joel), great food, art, film, jazz, fashion, a strong sense of tradition and a myriad of other things that have become a fundamental part of who I am today. Thank you, Joel ...

You have left an indelible mark on my life. Some of the best attributes you possessed, I have ingrained in me. When my children see those things in me, they see their father, but I know I am carrying on the very best of you.

As my heart wells with anguish, I cannot say it enough. Thank you, Joel. Thank you for your life and what it meant. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Your dear friend,

— Mark DeYoung

Nashville, Tenn.

Read the entire letter in the April 2, 2015 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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