COOK – The parking lot of the Cook Timberwolves Snowmobile Club was jammed Saturday morning with about 60 snowmobiles whose drivers and riders turned out for the Sheldon Sandberg Memorial ride, …
COOK – The parking lot of the Cook Timberwolves Snowmobile Club was jammed Saturday morning with about 60 snowmobiles whose drivers and riders turned out for the Sheldon Sandberg Memorial ride, honoring the 50-year-old local businessman and community member who died tragically in a tractor accident last July.
As Sandberg’s wife Taryn and son Jaret surveyed the crowd, they exchanged knowing smiles as they speculated what he would think of the gathering.
“I’m guessing that he’s thinking that it’s too many people,” Jaret laughed.
“He was fine with 20 and under,” Taryn said.
“Any time he knew there was a ride like this going around town he was going the opposite way to steer clear,” Jaret said. “I’m guessing he’d be amazed at the turnout.”
Nonetheless, Taryn thought the event was a fitting tribute.
“He lived everything to the fullest, having fun doing everything he did,” she said. “He wanted to make sure everybody was having fun, not just him. Anything he did, anything he planned, he made sure everybody was taken care of.”
Others joined along the way as the riders made the trek from Cook to Melgeorge’s Elephant Lake Lodge and Resort, bringing the estimated total of participants to about 80, said club president Ryan Nordstrand.
“He was a great guy, all of the immediate family are snowmobile club members and avid riders,” Nordstrand said. “He was also a well-respected, hardworking local business owner whose family deserves some support.”
Terry Swanson knew Sandberg for much of his life and worked as a subcontractor for Sandberg’s construction company. He said he wasn’t surprised at the turnout, given Sandberg’s dedication to helping others.
“He was there to help everybody, anybody who needed help he would step up and give them a hand, whatever he could do,” Swanson said. “Four or five years ago my garage burned down and he came over, him and his brother, and he laid out the plan for a new garage and was there right from the raising of it, just because he wanted to.”
Ryan Manick also hasdworked for the Sandbergs and said he and Jaret are close friends. He also had a close relationship with Sheldon.
“He was like a second uncle to me,” Manick said. “The Manicks and Sandbergs have known each other for a long time. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
It’s been difficult getting used to not having Sheldon around, Manick said, but working with Jaret has helped.
“With Jaret, I see Sheldon in him every day, whatever we’re doing at work,” he said. “I’m always there to help him, and he’s always there to help me.”
Along the route to Elephant Lake, riders stopped at a new observation tower overlooking the Pelican River that was built last September in honor of Sandberg with funds donated to the Voyageur Country ATV Club by the family.
“Sheldon’s wife came to me and said they wanted to give the club some money,” club co-founder Steve Koch said. “They wanted to put a table there with Sheldon’s name. I said if you’ll pay for the materials, we’ll build a big thing and put his name on the whole thing. We built that whole thing in one weekend with family and friends.”
The Sandbergs have a cabin on Black Duck Lake, and with a common love of the outdoors, Sandberg and Koch spent a lot of time together.
“He was hard-headed and stubborn just like me, so we got along good,” Koch chuckled. “We had all this stuff planned. He was going to get the cabin done, and we had all these trips we were going to do and then he disappeared on us too quick.”
Koch acknowledged the support from the community in the months following Sandberg’s death, but also expressed admiration for how the family has responded.
“Taryn is strong as can be, she’s positive as heck, and they keep rolling,” he said. “They were reaching out even with that disaster, wanting to give back. They’re awesome.”
For his part, Jaret couldn’t say enough about the ongoing support the family has received.
“Everybody that he worked with or worked around always is stepping up and helping with what we’re doing, I couldn’t have imagined it going as well as it has. It’s amazing the people that have reached out.”