Previous Events Archive > KEYCON 2013 CHICAGO

A trip to Wisconsin, visiting SmallFry and family, future memorial plans

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If you don't want to read my wall of text, just skip to the second post for more information about the memorial plans commemorating SmallFry.

Following an amazing day of keyboards, friends, new acquaintances, camaraderie, and lots of good food it was time to do something important. Earlier on Saturday, we were introduced to SmallFry’s family: Scott/Largefry, Michelle/Mama_Fry, and Emily/Baby_Fry. It was fun to allow them to get a glimpse into our little world but there was something I really wanted to do. Since I missed the service, I wanted to go see the final resting place of my friend. mkawa, myself, Mashby, and Hashby had made earlier arrangements to go up to Wisconsin. And HoffmanMyster also joined us the next day.

We picked mkawa up from a Metro station and then we made the journey up to Nate’s home. It was a great drive; mkawa regaled us with stories of how he rebuilt his car and how much he and much of the staff like cars. Mingapedia is a real thing guys, go hang out with mkawa one day and you’ll know for yourself. I just remember listening to all the banter and trying not to let me it get to me that I was about to do something really important and sad.

Then we pulled into the property and I remember us all saying how gorgeous Wisconsin and the town was. The day was bright, clear, and warm with no breeze. The summer was in full swing with the nearby cornfields in full bloom. I swear the grass and trees looked TOO green. The Fry homestead was this amazing hilly place with trees; very comfortable and beautiful.

Largefry welcomed us into his home and to my surprise; they had laid out SmallFry’s entire keyboard collection. I immediately recognized the Unicorn Vomit QFR, Phantom with 65g Blues, and the red dyed caps he made for his M-122. Of course SmallFry had a WHOLE BUNCH of other stuff as well and we spent a little time admiring his collection. But it turns out Mr. and Mrs. Walter didn’t know that much about his collection so Mingapedia and myself sprang into action. I never thought it would feel so good to know so much about keyboards because when we finished, they thanked us for explaining to them what we knew about his boards. They weren’t even sure of what they had in front of them and got to explain a little to his family about this hobby. Ming also offered them a memorial gift of a GeekHack t-shirt and a kawa toy that he printed on his MakerBot named SmallFry. Then it was a ton of reminiscing.

SmallFry was in IRC one night when he was cursing up a storm. Allegedly, he dropped Largefry’s soldering station smashed it. Somehow the station still worked and SmallFry just kept working. The other half of the story was that Largefry had zero idea that the station was broken until weeks later when he discovered Nate was working in a dark basement; doing keyboard things as always. Emily told us the story of how proud Nate was to have figured out how to dye his M-122 and how he got the keyboard. Mama_Fry told us about how SmallFry decided that the house was worthy of living in since there was a huge tree to climb in the front….which Baby_Fry then told us that he only tried climbing once. And Largefry told us the story about how one day, SmallFry decided to dig up an enormous rock from the backyard that now serves as a marker to the entrance to their property.

With the stories aside, Scott asked if we were ready to see the memorial that was put up at the site of the accident and then the gravesite. How do I say yes to that? Was I ready to see my friend’s final resting place? I’m not sure the answer should’ve been yes but I wanted to pay my respects. We drove less than half a mile from the homestead. It was a pretty long drive to me. I just remember Ming trying to steel himself for what was to come. For me? I was all over so I just tried to keep myself in check and stay calm and steady. We turned onto a side street, crossed the road, and found a little wooden cross that simply says “Nathan 6-27-13”. Friends had left him a keyboard, some notes, a stuffed cat, flowers, and what looked like a headlight or lights of some sort. Largefry told us a little about the accident which I don’t think needs to be repeated but we just shared some more stories but mostly just stood. I was speechless and a little too numb to cry. I just had so much running through my head. However, I did manage to remember to ask if I could add something to the memorial. I left a Red on White GeekHack cap. mashby added a Friends and Family keycap.

Finally, the hardest part came and we went to see Nate. The car ride was silent. I was still trying to comprehend that he was really gone and that this was all REAL. He’s not coming back, the crash site is real, and the graveyard we’re about to visit was real. Reality hit too hard. I got out of the car and stood maybe ten feet away. Scott explained that it actually takes a while to get a headstone so this was the marker they had for now. It turns out that Nate was an organ donor who saved three lives with his liver and kidneys. He was cremated and then buried here. Ming and I tried to relay how much SmallFry meant to GeekHack and then we just traded a few stories. But mostly, we just stood in silence. I know I was just overwhelmed with thoughts and busy crying. It felt surreal and it still feels surreal.

Nate, I’m sorry I missed your service but I showed up to pay my respects. You were my friend and I miss you.

There's other better pictures that mkawa has but these are what I have right now.

Picture's Mkawa took during the visit (from here):

Nathan's keyboard collection:

His pride and joy, the Phantom with 65g Blues. That QFR above it has the meth caps I gave to him as a present...

The future/important part of this story is the conversation that came next. Scott and Michelle explained that they want to create a fund to help support local Boy Scouts. When the Scout finds a project that will allow him to get his Eagle Scout ranking, he will often have to do fundraising.

SmallFry’s family wants to create a fund/endowment/memorial scholarship thing that they will use to help the Scout pay for his project so they can do less fundraising and more project-ing. They were exploring ways to setup the fund properly and then were trying to figure out ways to raise capital for the fund. LargeFry and Mama_Fry both said that they were thinking of auctioning/selling off Nate’s collection when the time was right.  mkawa, mashby, and I all said that GeekHack can probably help in a huge way. We then told the story of the “Bring Glissant Home Auction”.

So to all of you who have asked how you can contribute or help with a SmallFry memorial, this is what we’re going to do.

We’re going to help raise money for this fund.

I will be starting/organizing and maybe even running a sale of SmallFry iron-on/sew-on patches. Inlikeflynn has said he wanted to sell the Friends and Family caps but was waiting for some traction/ideas. Please see this post for information about the F&F caps and inlikeflynn's plans. Others have talked to me about projects but I was waiting for the family to give me their OK.

If you have ideas, want to help, or have suggestions as to how we can help the SmallFry fund, please post them here. Or PM myself or Ming or LargeFry/Mama_Fry. I want to make it clear that THIS WILL HAPPEN WHEN THE FAMILY IS READY. This isn’t up to us, let’s not rush this. We’re here to help, not overwhelm.

And just to be clear, I did clear all this with the family before posting. Also mkawa has better pictures but I just wanted to put this up.


--- Quote from: CPTBadAss on Wed, 21 August 2013, 18:47:14 ---I wanted to go see the final resting place of my friend. mkawa, myself, Mashby, and Hashby had made earlier arrangements to go up to Wisconsin. And HoffmanMyster also joined us the next day.

--- End quote ---

It was a pleasure having the five of you stop by and visit the house and take the time to see the roadside memorial and Nate's grave site.  It means the world to us to talk with others about our son.  I know it was a hard thing to do, but I am sure glad you chose to visit.

--- Quote from: CPTBadAss on Wed, 21 August 2013, 18:47:25 ---The future/important part of this story is the conversation that came next. Scott and Michelle explained that they want to create a fund to help support local Boy Scouts.

--- End quote ---

Let me explain a little more about what we are planning to do.  We are working on setting up the Nathaniel J. Walter Foundation as a non-profit entity with the purpose of administering an endowment fund to help youth raise funds for community service projects.  I think we will start by supporting scouts that are working on Eagle Scout Service projects, but might branch out to other community minded youth organizations in the future (i.e. 4H, Girl Scouts, etc.).  The idea here is to raise as much capital as we can and invest the money in such a way that we will award only the interest earned on the principle each year.  Once all the interest has been awarded to youth for their projects, the foundation will stop awarding grants for the year.  In this way, the foundation can help serve the youth of the community indefinitely.  Of course, with this setup, a large amount of principle is required in order to award meaningful gifts.

We have collected a fair amount of seed money to start the fund, but will likely need to raise more funds in the future in order to launch this foundation properly.  We are not in a position yet to start trying to raise any funds.  We want to make sure the foundation is set up properly as a legal entity with non-profit status to allow donors to be confident that the money they give will be used properly in support of this cause.  We need to contact a lawyer to work through some of these details and I can share a timeline for the foundation after that.

I think at some point, we will likely auction off some of Nathan's collection to help raise funds for the foundation, but as you can imagine, parting with his stuff is difficult.  I am not sure if or when we will be ready to move forward with those plans, so please bear with us.

In the meantime, thank you for all you have done and continue to do in the memory of our son and brother.

That was a way better explanation than mine. Thanks for clearing it up :D

Wow this was really hard to read, but thank you for posting CPT.


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