by Dennis Dalman
Friends, loved ones and even some total strangers will gather July 13 to honor the memory of Frankie Ring and to raise money for his three favorite activities: acting, mission trips and swimming.
Ring, who would have turned 20 on May 27, committed suicide on Jan. 29, 2010. He was only 17. His many friends and former Sartell High School classmates still mourn his tragic loss. His mother, Mary Jo Ring, with help from others, decided to host a “Frankie Ring Memorial Golf Tournament,” which will take place starting at 10 a.m. Friday, July 13 at Blackberry Ridge Golf Course in Sartell.
The event will include a four-person scramble (starting at noon), refreshments, dinner, a silent auction and entertainment by three high school groups – The Testostertones (singers), the 7th Street Singers and a jazz combo. The music will start at 5:30 p.m.
All of the proceeds will go to scholarships for Sartell High School swimmers, for high school students involved with mission trips by Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell and for students involved in local theater.
“Those are the things Frankie loved the best, so we thought that would be the best way to honor his memory,” his mother said.
Tickets are also available for those who don’t care to golf but would like to enjoy the dinner, auction and entertainment. Registration is required by June 30. To register or for more information about available sponsorships or how to donate auction items, call Mary Jo Ring at 320-248-2970 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ring has been described as “unforgettable” by so many people who knew him. He was, by all accounts, energetic, intelligent, creative, kind and caring, and sidesplittingly funny with his endless series of practical jokes and gentle jibes. He was also a very good listener who was able to understand others’ problems, his friends have repeatedly said. He was a “live wire” who could make life suddenly exciting and fun, even when his friends were feeling down.
When he died so tragically, friends and classmates gathered many times to remember him and to honor him. They often gathered at his gravesite in the cemetery in Sartell where a marble bench in Ring’s honor was placed next to his grave. There, friends would share memories and shed more than a few tears. In fact, they still visit the gravesite. On the day that would have been Ring’s 20th birthday, May 27, his mother found flowers and a ceramic angel that someone had left there. She also found a note taped under the bench from a classmate of Ring’s who was college-bound and nervous about leaving home. In her note, she asked Ring to be her guardian angel through any tough times ahead.
“It’s just unbelievable how attached they still are to Frankie,” Mary Jo said. “Even this class, this year, two years younger than Frankie’s class – they care about him so much, too, and some students didn’t know him then.”
On May 27, there were more than 70 messages left on Ring’s Facebook. The tributes to her son moved Mary Jo to the core. She also received letters from some of Ring’s teachers.
“Happy Birthday, Frankie,” said one message from Tyler Stecht, a diver who knew Ring when he was a member of the swim team. “As Facebook clearly shows, everyone misses you a lot.”
Ring was a member of the swim team for six years.
Since his death, Mary Jo has given a $500 scholarship to a Sartell swimmer for the past two years. The latest recipient was Joel Garberick.
Ring was known as a superb actor and took part in countless productions at Sartell Middle School, Sartell High School and in productions of Great River Educational Arts Theatre. When he was 9 years old, his first play was “Little House on the Prairie.” His last, not long before his death, was “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
Another passion of Ring’s was the annual mission trip sponsored by his church. He and others had gone to help hurting people in such places as Duluth, New Orleans and Vermont.
One of Mary Jo’s favorite birthday messages to Frankie is this one from Chloe Ree, who always referred to Frankie as her “unbiological brother.”
“I know I’m technically a little bit late,” Ree wrote, “but it’s never too late to remember and celebrate you. I’ve been thinking about you today on your special day (birthday) and celebrating you and the wonderful person you were and still are . . . I know you are enjoying a grand celebration up there, but I wish you were celebrating down here with us. Thank you for being my guardian angel. I love you and miss you and I hope again you have a very special birthday.”
Those who cannot attend the golf event can still donate to the scholarship funds by sending a check to “Frankie Ring Memorial Fund,” in care of Mary Jo Ring, 21 McKinley Place N., St. Cloud, MN 56303.