SYRACUSE — Remembrances from hundreds of people whose lives were touched by Kim Conrad and her son, Stephen, are being shared in conversations and most visibly on social media. Support for the survivors: husband and father, Steve; and sons and brothers: Michael and Jeffery are also pouring out from the community.
Kim touched lives in so many ways, as a kindergarten teacher at Syracuse Elementary for 28 years, as a cheerleading coach, gymnastics coach, eight years as a literacy coach for the school corporation and a substitute teacher. She studied education at Ball State University and Eastern Illinois University. She also touched lives in the real estate world, as a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber Real Estate, not only handling the buying and selling of homes, but helping those entering the real estate world.
Stephen, just like his mother, touched many lives, as his time as a basketball player and golf standout at Wawasee High School, while at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Johnson and Wales University. He also touched lives as a golf pro and a golf shop assistant at Anthem Golf and Country Club in Phoenix, Ariz.
“I often think about the wonderful women and men who are helping me raise my children,” said Sara Hoover Moore “… She taught me to water ski, let me play with her babies, hung out with me countless days after school and danced at my wedding. … If you knew Kim, she would agree, is to celebrate her and her precious son’s life. I’m going to laugh and love as hard as I can. I’m not going to take a single day for granted.”
“Many in the Wawasee community and hurting and questioning why,” stated Kristina Long. Long will miss Kim’s smile, laugh and genuine caring way. Long said Kim impacted her entire family and those stories of the impact reach out to so many. In a Facebook post on Kim Conrad’s page, Long included a song “to remind all of us that when we don’t understand, sometimes we just need to allow God to hold us.”
Johanna Mock stated “there aren’t words for what our best friends are going through right now or what it’s like to see so much brokenness. There aren’t words to describe the loss … because it’s far too great.” She is asking those with pictures and/or stores about either Kim or Stephen and who are willing to share to gather those for Mike and Katie as they prepare and make arrangements. Individuals can contact Mock through Facebook and she will provide an email to send the photos and a simple memory.
Olivia Long shared her memories of her kindergarten teacher who watched her grow up. “She was always so happy to see me and gave me a hug whenever she saw me. Even with her busy schedule she still made time to come to my house to coach me for cheer tryouts and I am forever grateful for her doing that for me … She was an amazing lady with a huge heart and an enormous love of Jesus. You will be dearly missed Mrs. Conrad. I will never forget you.”
Kathleen Boyts, just one of a thousand parents whose children were touched by Kim as a teacher stated. “Her legacy will live on through each life she touched … Her impact on my children’s lives and many other kids she taught will be remembered till we meet again in heaven … Kim Conrad thank you.”
A close family friend, Katelynn Kaiser spent Christmas Eve with the Conrads. “Christmas Eve I was standing with Kim in the kitchen with Katie and she looked at both of us and said ‘every day is a gift from God.’ As I gave her a hug and kiss good-bye before we left, she also left me with her words of wisdom, ‘it’s all good!’”
“I still can’t believe it,” said Brady McKibben. “I just knew one day I was going to buy my first house from Kimbo and now I can’t and getting a chance to play a round with Stevey almost every time he came home was awesome cause he was so good and I always wanted to be as good as him some day. We lost two legends from this town … Kim was like a mom to so many and I’m glad she was like a mom to me and Stephen like a brother.”
Kim Evans said “My heart is crushed to lose one of my best friends and skiing buddy. There is no one like Kim Conrad – the most loving, caring, giving person I know. And for the loss of Stephen. My son grew up with him. This leaves a huge hole.”
“No words can express, no tears make it better. No day will pass without you in my thoughts,” said Fran VanLue. “But I know God has Kim and Stephen in the palm of his hand … .” She thanks Kim “for teaching us all how we should care, how we should treat others, how to make the world better and easier for others … She will always live in my heart and a thousand other hearts.”
Ben Knisley played basketball with Stephen and remembers his friend and former teammate as hard working “to the point, hilarious, positive, confident, accepting” and a loving friend since they were a couple years old. He played basketball with Stephen from the days at Lakeland Youth Center, to AAU and through high school. Stephen “made practices more fun and helped us all who couldn’t shoot like him. Each of us were so lucky to have him on our team … from a witty banter with an official or opponent to calling me out or suggesting some other play to be called and always keeping things light and in perspective … .”
Knisley recalled spending endless summer days playing golf with Stephen at Maxwelton and learning the game Stephen loved. Having hot dogs and sodas at the turn, doing the loop right in front of the Conrad home, playing junior tour events, etiquette lessons, hours of practicing on No. 13 mastering the lob wedge sand escape till dark and following him and all his rounds up to the state golf tournament.
He also remembers playing at the Conrad home and the countless games of 21 he and Stephen would play in the driveway, video games, playing in and on the water and on the boat. Having Stephen around, Knisley said “set things into perspective in the best way because he was heard and his presence was always so special, one that will be so missed by so many.”
Knisley remembers Kim as “one of the most positive, always smiling, selfless, loving, kind, generous, friendly, sacrificial humans” he has ever known. “The community of Syracuse and the world is so much better for knowing her,” he said. Adding Kim “loved and served her family and community in ways that cannot be explained and we are all so grateful, forever.” He noted Kim was “able to be in a million places at once and still make time for everyone who depended on her. She radiated joy and love. I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing a complaint, although everyone in the community was always asking of favors” and she was graciously offering her help to anyone and everyone.
A friend from Tempe, Ariz., Chase Karvanek, said this about Stephen. “I’m still in shock from hearing this news and my heart is truly broken. Stephen was a good friend and always knew how to brighten up my day. I still cherish all the rounds of golf we played together and the great times we had at work. Although I was never blessed with the opportunity to meet his mother, I’m sure she was just as genuine and loving as the son she raised. Words cannot describe the heartache I have right now.”
Co-worker, Deb Paton-Showley shared “We all knew her well and if you were her friend, you know it will be a huge loss. She was a hard working dedicated lady to her family, her clients, the community and students. She loved the lake and the people that surrounded her. I especially will miss our weekly phone calls – sometimes I was her sanity check – others she was mine – but she was always there for me and many others out there if you ever needed something, Kim was there and with a smile. The love she carried for everyone was intoxicating. We worked close together on many transactions for real estate, but our conversations were therapeutic for me and her …. She cherished her family and they came up in every conversation as she reminded me work would be there tomorrow, but your son will be grown and out of the house before you know it so take the time … always encouraging me to be a better mom and a better person … I will miss her, our community will miss her and her son.”
Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent of Wawasee Community School Corp., issued this statement, “Kim Conrad was a teacher here at Wawasee Community Schools from 1979 through 2016 — 36 years. Even in her retirement she enjoyed filling in as teacher, most recently at Milford School as a first grade teacher. She was well loved by all of her students and the Syracuse community. She will be greatly missed by all of our schools.”
Officials with the Builders Association of Kosciusko Fulton Counties and Kosciusko Board of Realtors also have shared thoughts.
Officials at the BAKFC have stated ”our continued prayers are with 18-year associate member and friend Stephen T. Conrad (Kuert Concrete) as he endures a painful healing process while grieving the untimely passing of his beautiful wife, Kim and son, Stephen.”
Mark Skibowski, 2017 incoming board of directors president of KBOR shared, “Kim was loved and respected throughout the realtor community, not only for her professionalism and commitment to her clients but also her cheerful personality and giving nature. Though real estate was her profession, Kim’s passion for teaching and her true servant heart endeared her to our industry, community, clients and any person that she interacted with.”
Conrad started in real estate in 1997 as a sales associate at Prickett’s Properties in Syracuse, subsequently moving to Century 21 Integrity in 2006, and then to Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber in 2011. Her son Michael recently joined Kim as a broker, forming Team Conrad, one of the top producing teams of the Kosciusko Board of Realtors.