Remembering William Andrew Grahek

Remembering William Andrew Grahek

Some people are born smiling. According to fellow rugby players at The University of Minnesota Duluth, William Andrew Grahek was one of those people. 

“That smile,” sophomore Connor Larson said. “It was the best thing ever.”

Grahek, 22, died on Tuesday, Feb. 14th after being shot in Duluth's East Hillside neighborhood.

“He was an amazing guy,” sophomore Tim Kemp said. “He always had a smile on his face and his memory deserves the best.”

Grahek grew up in Centerville, Minn. and graduated from Centennial High School.

He attended the College of Saint Scholastica and eventually transferred to the UMD. He studied computer science and criminology. Grahek also played rugby.

“Will was special,” Trace Bolstad, senior and captain of the rugby team, said. “He was one of the people that you absolutely needed on a team. I never saw him frown. He brought a whole new energy to what he did.”

According to Grahek’s teammates, his love for life could light up a room.

“He had that short breath, long breath kinda laugh,” Larson said. “I am going to miss that.”

As much as Grahek was a teammate, he was also a friend.

“Both inside and outside of rugby, his positive energy spread. No one ever felt down around him,” sophomore Vincent Searson said.

Grahek made friends easily.

“His personality was contagious. He had a way of connecting with people and making friends,” senior Clifford Petruska said. “He will be missed.”

In addition to going to school and playing rugby, Grahek served as a specialist with the Duluth-based 312th Army Reserve Engineer Company. He was devoted to giving.

“The last time I saw Will, we were at a bar and he asked me why I didn’t have a drink,” senior Billy Tapi recalled. “I told him that I was broke and he gave me $5 to get one.”

Grahek will be remembered for his charismatic, fun loving personality. His teammates remember him as a loyal, caring and true friend. 

“He’d do anything for one of his brothers,” Kemp said.

A “person of interest” was detained on the night of Feb. 14, but on Feb. 15 police said that they didn’t have anyone in custody. Officers have identified a potential motive, but have yet to release further information. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are helping with the investigation.

Both The University of Minnesota Duluth and The College of Saint Scholastica have extended their condolences to the Grahek family, as well as provided students with counseling services.

Vice Chancellor Lisa Erwin said in an email, “The death of a student deeply affects our UMD community. I know I can speak for many when I extend my deepest sympathies to Will Grahek's family and friends. Students who are seeking support in this difficult time have several options. They may to contact UMD Counseling Services (part of Health Services) or visit "Let's Talk" for drop-in, confidential consultations with UMD Counselors.”

In his short life, William Grahek touched the lives of countless people. His legacy is one of love and laughter.

“When I found out about Will, the first thing that I thought of was his smile,” senior Randy Tanaka said. “He was a part of the team. He was a brother.”

A memorial service will be held on Sat, Feb. 18 at 1pm at Bradshaw, located on 4600 Greenhaven Drive, White Bear. The visitation will begin at 10:30 a.m. and a reception will follow.

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