On July 24, family, friends and even complete strangers gathered at the American Legion in Chester to celebrate the life of Brandon Schwier of Chester.
Schwier, who was just 18, would have been a senior at Chester High School this fall. He was tragically killed on July 19, when the truck he was driving collided with a dump truck on Brick Plant Road near Campbell Hill.
Born on April 16, 2001, Brandon was the son of Don Schwier and Lois E. Altman Schwier. He had a twin brother, Chris, and two older siblings, Amanda Schwier-Cross and Aaron Schwier.
At Chester High School, Brandon was proud to be a member of the newly-formed National FFA Organization, and he was a member of the Chester High School Summit Chapter of the Nation Honor Society.
In addition Brandon was an active member of the CHS Bass Fishing Team. He was on the Yellow Jacket Baseball and Basketball teams and he played soccer in the community program and with friends on weekends.
"Brandon is going to be greatly missed by everyone," his twin, Chris, said at the celebration. "He was always ready and willing to help others. He and I were always together. We worked on a farm together and loved to go fishing together. We especially loved to go night fishing."
When I think of it, we did almost everything together. Some of the Memorial money that was given in memory of Brandon is going to be donated to the CHS Bass Fishing Team to be used to help kids pay for their membership fees. He wanted everyone who wanted to fish on the team to be able to join regardless of their ability to pay the fees."
Brandon, Chris added, was about to be hired to drive a fork lift at the Gilster plant in McBride, Missouri.
"In addition, Brandon was extremely proud that upon graduation from CHS this coming year, he was going to go into the United States Air Force. He would have signed the paperwork on Monday, July 22."
To celebrate Brandon's life, the Schwier family wanted to focus on the bright side of everything that Brandon stood for and asked longtime friend and pastor, Dr. Mike Fogerson of the First Baptist Church in Chester, to help facilitate the visitation and celebration of life.
Fogerson said they knew they needed a lot of space, so the American Legion was chosen -- a good call since there was standing room only at the celebration.
Visitation began at 6 p.m., followed by a brief service led by Fogerson at 7 p.m.
Brandon, Fogerson said, was a Chester Boy Scout.
"He was also a 'gamer' who loved to stay up late paying video games ... and then sleep much of the next day to recuperate."
Brandon was quiet and a little shy, but he liked his stereo loud and thumping, Fogerson said. "He was always polite and respectful to those around him. He also donated blood often, to help those in need. He was a great young man!"
A cappella, Fogerson began singing, "Amazing Grace" and almost immediately the entire audience of 500-plus people joined in.
Fogerson said Brandon was in the ring for a 15-round fight, but was cut down in the 3rd round.
"His life was not long, but the life he lived was certainly rich and significant, full of love and meaningful relationships and friendships," Fogerson said. "He knew what it meant to be loved by family and friends.
"This is one of the reasons we are all here tonight -- because Brandon brought something into our lives. Our lives were made fuller and effected for the better by us having known Brandon."
Brandon's father, Don, said the celebration was a wonderful event that the family really needed.
"I must say 'Thank You" to everyone who came and helped us during this difficult time. The service and visitation was fantastic and everyone was so loving and sincere in their condolences. My family is extremely thankful for all of the support."
In closing, Don Schwier said, "Brandon was such a great kid. He was so kind and loving and he was going to join the Air Force and he had just gotten a good job. It is so very hard for us to understand how such a wonderful son could be taken so early in life. Maybe someday we will be able to understand, but right now it is so very difficult for us!"
Makayla Ward, a Chester High School junior, was Brandon's girlfriend. "Brandon was always there for anybody who needed him," she said. "He was kind, sweet and very caring."
CHS Principal Missy Meyer said she knew Brandon his whole life. "He was about the same age as my boys and they played baseball together in the summer and at school. Brandon was the quiet one who just sat back and took everything in," she said. "He will be greatly missed by many teachers and students at CHS."
Basketball Coach Brad Norman: "Brandon was a quiet guy who was full of talent. He always worked hard and was genuinely happy when his teammates did well. His soft voice and big smile are ones to remember and also ones we will miss very much."
Classmate Breanna Surman: "One of my favorite memories of Brandon is our 8th grade trip to Six Flags. I was so scared to go on the rides but he encouraged me to try them. I did and we ended up having the best time."
Chester High School Paraprofessional Tammy Surman said, "Outside of school he was 'the boy' that took my baby girl (Breanna) on her first date. At a ball tournament in Jackson, Missouri when Breanna was playing, he sacrificed sleeping in on a Saturday to watch her play softball."
Matthew Meltzer, CHS agriculture teacher: "Brandon was always polite, hardworking and focused. I will miss him very much and was looking forward to having him in class and FFA again this year."