Remembering Colbie Fandrich: Gone but not forgotten

By  | 

WISHEK, N.D. - A year ago, on June 9, 2016 a horrible plane crash took the lives of three people in the rural town of Wishek. Twenty-year-old Colbie Fandrich was the pilot of the 1964 Ppiper Cherokee.

Although he is gone his family and community are making sure his legacy lives on.

"It's become one of my daily rituals, to come out here and clean for Colbie sometimes twice a day," said Jessie Fandrich, Colbie's mom

It's been 365 since Jessie Fandrich lost her son Colbie. "We've all had pain and loss, but until you've lived it you have no idea," she said.

A loss that impacted the entire community of Wishek.

"I couldn't believe it, I still can't," said family friend Troy Scheer.

Family friend Dave Just said, "He didn't realize how many lives he touched until he was gone."

At only 20 years old, Colbie wore many hats. He was a locally trained EMT, an adventure seeker of the outdoors, from wakeboarding to fishing to being a part of a ranch rodeo team.

But what he loved the most was flying.

"I looked up there wasn't a cloud in the sky and there was no wind and I just said, see you in an hour," said Jessie.

An hour that turned into forever.

"Then I heard the words they are gone, they are all gone," said Jessie.

Colbie wasn't the only soul on that flight, his aunt Christine Fandrich and cousin Aaron Nordstrom were his passengers.

They were flying from Wishek to Bismarck for an appointment. The plane crashed shortly after take off into a nearby lake, only a half a mile away from the airport.

Jessie said "He was a guy you wanted to be around, he made you feel good, made you want to be a better person."

Colbie's legacy lives on through the people he's touched.

"A lot of people in this community are going to be better people, more caring," said Just.

Scheer said, "he was just an uplifting guy, his work ethic was awesome."

Kelly Brown said, "One person giving it to one person, community to a community, kindness does matter and that's what Colbie stood for."

Jessie, "He gives me strength to be a good mom to Riley and Lauren, and a good wife to my husband, you just keep going, because not going on is not an option."
Visitors young and old continue to keep Colbie's memory alive ...leaving flowers and symbolic items that tell a story.

"Gone by not forgotten," said Jessie.

Twenty years wasn't enough time, but Colbie's kindness still echoes through the town whispering: always stay humble and kind.

A fundraiser was held in honor of Colbie's on June 3. It raised $37,000 and brought the community together with about 400 people in attendance.

The Fandrich's have started a scholarship in his name. This year, three local seniors were awarded, all attending BSC where Colbie graduated.