This is the only thing I will be posting today, in tribute to a wonderful young man who was tragically taken from the world early this morning. After this, I will be shutting down my devices for the day and avoiding my social media sites. But before I did, I wanted to share my thoughts with you about a young man named Shiloh Sundstrom…
The four years I covered Shiloh Sundstrom during his time as a Mapleton High School athlete remain among my favorites in my 16 years at Siuslaw News.
Not because he was a particularly extraordinary athlete. But because he was most definitely an extraordinary person.
The kind that makes you feel good just to be near him because he not only carried positive energy and warmth with him, but shared it with everyone he came into contact with.
Even after Shiloh graduated and moved on to Oregon State University, his seasonal returns to Bowerman Field to assist his dad, longtime Sailors’ track coach Johnny Sundstrom, remained something I looked forward to. It was my opportunity to be in his energetic and positive presence while catching up on what he’d been doing. I discovered early on that, much like talking with his father, it was impossible not to smile while talking with this young man.
In his eyes was a genuine enthusiasm and warmth that was infectious in the same way a favorite song makes you want to sing along; it’s something that makes you feel good in your soul.
As a father, it was easy to see the pride reflected on Johnny’s face for his son — and another highlight of each spring for me. Talking with them together, Johnny beneath his white cowboy hat and Shiloh usually behind a scruffy beard, are some of my favorite conversations.
Again, not because they were particularly heady or introspective discussions, but because talking with them together on a sunny afternoon with spring in the air always left me feeling appreciative — for what I get to do, and the people who make it special.
My father always told me you can tell just about everything you need to know about a man from his handshake, unless it’s from a politician.
Every conversation with Shiloh always began and ended with a strong, eager handshake; the kind of handshake that told me all I needed to know about him.
It’s a handshake I will deeply miss come spring.
And a handshake I’ll always remember…
(Early this morning, I got word that this extraordinary young man was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while taking a leasurely walk down a country road near his small town. He was just 33.)