Thomas Bearson remembered at funeral Mass as loving son, talented athlete

Categories: Around the Diocese

The Visitor

Family members and friends remembered Thomas Bearson as a talented athlete, loving son and role model for others during his funeral Mass Sept. 29 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell.

About 1,250 mourners attended the service for the 18-year-old student and member of the parish who attended North Dakota State University in Fargo. His body was found Sept. 23 in Moorhead. Authorities said Bearson, who went missing a few days earlier, was the victim of “homicidal violence” and continue their investigation.

bearsonBearson was a standout basketball player at Sartell High School, and former Sartell basketball coach Dave Angell told a story about how Bearson once missed a game-winning shot in the last seconds of a contest against Albany during his sophomore year. Angell said he told Bearson after the game that sometimes a person has to fail to learn how to be successful. The next year, in a similar game situation against Albany, Bearson made the shot.

Bearson cared about his teammates, classmates and friends, said Angell, who thanked Bearson for bringing joy to so many people’s lives. “I would have been proud to have you as my own son,” he said.

Greg Bearson, Thomas’ father, talked about how his son received his first small basketball and hoop as a 1-year-old, later graduating to a Little Tykes hoop and then a hoop in the driveway. “He loved it [basketball],” Greg Bearson said. “It truly was fun for him.”

Thomas’ mother, Debbie, who teaches second-grade at St. Francis Xavier School, told about a time when her son declined to eat Reese’s Pieces at a birthday party so he could still give his mom, who has a peanut allergy, a kiss.

She said she will miss hearing his voice. But, she added, “He will still hear from me every day: ‘Love you, Tom.’”

Maddie, Thomas’ sister, said he wasn’t much of a writer or reader, but he would proofread her work when she wrote about sports. He also helped her with math homework. Maddie, 20, said her brother is now with God to do the things he loves. “I was, and will always be, proud that he was my brother,” she said.

Father Timothy Baltes, pastor at St. Francis Xavier, presided at the Mass. He said the gift of Jesus brings comfort in the wake of Tom’s tragic death as well as strength in light of the senseless violence that has impacted the family and community.

He said the love and care members of the community give to one another is important so that “when we grow weary, we find strength in one another.”

Ryan Walsh, a cousin of Thomas and one of the pallbearers at the funeral, read a statement from the Bearson family following the Mass.

The family thanked law enforcement authorities for their work. “We know that many people are working hard to find the perpetrator(s),” they said. “Moving forward, it will be extremely important to the family that justice be served.”

“Thomas touched many people in a positive way during his short life and that knowledge has helped us remain strong,” they said. “He leaves us with many great memories of joy and love and his light will always shine. Words can never express the deepness of our loss and how much we loved him. We ask that parents hug their kids and tell them they love them.

“We keep asking ourselves, ‘Why Tom?’ The only thing we can come up with is that the basketball team in heaven must have needed a point guard.”