(Bismarck, ND) — Mourners gathered Tuesday to remember North Dakota State Senator Doug Larsen, his wife, Amy, and their two children, Christian and Everett, who were killed in a tragic plane crash near Moab, Utah, on October 1. The service, held at Bismarck’s Trinity Lutheran Church, featured remembrances of Amy and Doug, each by a sister; Christian, by his fourth grade teacher at Fort Lincoln Elementary School, Marleigh Buechler; and Everett, by a speech pathologist with whom he had worked with for several years, Anne Bry.
The Larsens, from Mandan, were en route back to North Dakota from Arizona. They had just stopped in Moab for refueling of the aircraft, in which Doug was the pilot of.
“My guess is, if you are like me, you have a lot of questions: What happened? What now? How could this happen?” Trinity Lutheran Pastor Mark Narum said in his sermon at Tuesday’s funeral. “The truth is, some of those questions will never be answered on this side of heaven. But I want you to remember something. God’s shoulders are big enough for each and every one of your questions.”
Rebecca Hoglund, Doug Larsen’s sister, remembered Doug as being “never afraid of fspeaking his mind about something he believes in.”
“He was always there to do whatever he could to lend a helping hand,” she said. “He was that kind of guy that wanted to help out whereever he could.”
In reflecting on the past several days, Hoglund said the family has been on her mind constantly.
“The tragedy that took my brother, his wife, and their two children, has been one of the most surreal events that I have ever experienced,” she said. “Not one minute has gone by without us thinking about them and missing them.
Chantel Southam, Amy Larsen’s sister, called Amy “loving and fun,” saying her favorite job was being a mom.
“Amy wore many hats in her life, but her favorite hat to wear was that of mom,” Southam said. “She loved hard, and she loved her boys.”
Marleigh Buechler is a fourth grade teacher at Fort Lincoln Elementary in Mandan. She was Christian Larsen’s teacher.
“Christian was an extraordinary student and person,” she said. “While the rest of his class was dreaming about being an NFL star, he was dreaming about being a paleontologist.”
She said Larsen would often tell her “if we were all the same, the world would be a boring place.”
“For many of us, Christian pushed us to think outside the box and better ourselves,” Buechler said. “Christian touched many of us in many different ways.”
Anne Bry, a speech pathologist who had worked with Everett for many years, called him “not the little enginge that could. He was the train that could.”
“He worked really, really hard,” Bry said. “When he went to Kindergarten, he had the confidence to speak. He had the confidence to speak because his parents gave him the opportunity. They brought him to therapy day after day. They put him into a preschool setting that was very language rich.”
Bry choked up when retelling a story she had recently heard.
“I was told this last week that I was referred to as ‘the angel, Everett’s angel’ in their home, because of my team. I never once thought Everett’s family would become mine,” she said. “He was the most amazing, sweetest little boy who fought so hard in his life to speak.”
The Larsens were interred in the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, south of Mandan.