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In Memory of: Ryan Edgell

October 4, 2012 Blog 5 comments

About a year ago, my younger cousin, Ryan Edgell passed away and went to be with the Lord.  The only thing that we really know is that Ryan hit his head really hard when he was in a car accident the night before.  He passed away several  hours later the next morning.  I wanted to write a little about Ryan, some of the times that we shared together, and what we decided to do in memory of him.

Ryan was always a fun guy to be around.  He had a great sense of humor, he was very intentional and loved people.  I was only a couple of years older than Ryan. Some of the things we did together while we were younger included; running around in the woods above his house, working on his tree house together, playing games with both of our older sisters, fishing at Aunt Gail’s pond, getting into trouble down in the basement, and plenty of shenanigans.

When we were older and in our teens, we would often drive to youth group together, throw football with Josh and Matt, Ryan’s younger brothers, go to Razetown Lake with the youth group and ride four-wheeler up in the woods at his home.  You know, typically teenage boy stuff! 🙂

The Governor Dick Tower, where our families would sometimes hike.

In the last year or two of Ryan’s life, he experienced what I would say were some serious challenges.  Ryan and I didn’t hang out as much as we used to during this time and I believe that he faced many battles which of course like everyone else, some you win, some you lose.  There was a season of time where Ryan was not as committed to the Lord as he used to be and it was often that I would pray for him, asking God to reveal his heart to Ryan and show him how much He loved him.

A couple of weeks before Ryan passed away, Ryan asked to come over after I got off work.  I got to talk to him about what he was going through and how I wanted to be a better brother in Christ to him and start hanging out again.  I made him a home made bison burger and let him eat it while I talked his ears off.  I realized that I barely let him talk!  It was just nice to be able to tell him what I was feeling about the season he was in and how much I loved him.  I love him like a brother, no matter what he was going through.

Little did I know that this was the last time I was going to see him.  We were planning to get together at least every two weeks from that point on and I was really excited!  We were planning to go the the Manheim Farm Show parade the day that he passed away.  I didn’t hear back from him the day before but I was so busy I just figured he was still going to go with me and I would pick him up beforehand.

And then, that was it.  He was gone.  I was so close to connecting with him again and there was nothing I could do about it.  A few days later we had Ryan’s funeral.  Ryan’s parents, Justus and Maggie Edgell asked me if I could lead a few worship songs at the funeral.  This was such an honor.  I was so blessed to have the opportunity to serve at my little cousin’s funeral.  The neat thing was that I felt like we should do a song by Casting Crowns called, ‘Praise You in this Storm’.  The day I went to talk to Ryan’s mom about what songs they wanted me to do, that was the first on her list.  What a God-thing.  That wasn’t even my favorite song and I didn’t even necessarily feel like it was the best ‘funeral song’.

God has such a divine purpose and plan for all of us and I am so thankful that I was able to know Ryan and walk with him throughout his life.  A week before Ryan passed away, he rededicated his life to Jesus with a mutual friend, Shawn Hurst.  I know Shawn and Ryan were close during the season I did not get to hang out with Ryan as much.

For those who knew Ryan, you might say, why?  Why did God let this happen?  Shouldn’t He know that if he let Ryan live, he could have enjoyed and lived decades more of life to the fullest?  Jeremiah 29:11 says; “For I know the plans I have for you“, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God had a plan for Ryan’s life.  Maybe God’s plan was for Ryan to make a difference in our lives and leave an impression until it was ‘time to go’.  I can’t say why he was taken away exactly, but I do know that if the Lord had a plan for Ryan’s life, he has a plan for your life.  Plans to prosper you, not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future…

The greatest future we can have is accessible if we except Jesus as Lord, live our life for him and as a result live eternally in Heaven.  That’s it.  That is the best future we can get.  I can’t wait to see Ryan in Heaven and I will continue serving Jesus here on earth until that day. 🙂

We (myself and others at Newport DOVE church) wanted to remember Ryan by raising funds to plant a tree at his parent’s house on Pinch Road, Manheim area.  Since I am a landscaper by trade, it was very easy to find a nice tree for this.  I wanted to get a tree that will get very large over time and that is beautiful all year round.

I found a Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’, European purple beech tree.  After talking with Ryan’s family about it, they agreed to let me plant this tree in their front yard to remember Ryan.  The tree is easily visible from Pinch Road.  The picture below is what this tree looks like after several decades of growth!

This is a picture of the tree after I picked it up over the winter . Not much to look at, yet!

Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’

A close-up of the leaves, after they unfurled in the spring.

I didn’t just want to plant one tree for Ryan.  So, I planted a whole bed!  The other shrubs were Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’ and Viburnum carlesii.

A few months after planting, the tree looks great and the Itea are blooming!

Ryan being himself. 😛


I miss you and I can’t wait to see you again!

I love you, buddy.


About Gavin


Garrison Witmeyer - October 5, 2012 Reply

This is amazing Gav. Thanks for sharing bro. 🙂

Angie Stoner - October 5, 2012 Reply

Thank You for sharing these thoughts and memories of Ryan. It helped me to get o know him better and yes we WILL see him again when we all go home:)

Gail Edgell - October 5, 2012 Reply

Thanks for sharing. Ryan always wanted to be hanging out with you. He’s much missed, but a home in heaven is sweet.

Cheryl Witmeyer - October 5, 2012 Reply

What a blessing shared. I know that all of the Witmeyer family will appreciate this shared story of a short, but special, life. God Bless you all.


Margie Shaffer - October 7, 2012 Reply

Thanks Gavin for sharing this wonderful tribute to Ryan! Keep those precious memories in your heart but thank you for sharing some of them with the rest of us;)

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