Photography

Joshua Birchem

May 20, 1999 ~ September 30, 2019 (age 20)

Joshua Tyler Mehmel Birchem

 

Joshua Tyler Mehmel Birchem lost his battle with depression on Monday, September 30, 2019. He was born in Bemidji, MN on May 20, 1999 to Gretchen Mehmel and Jeff Birchem. His sister Johanna was born five years later.

 

Joshua grew up at Norris Camp. There he developed his deep love of nature. He spent his time hunting, picking wild rice, foraging for mushrooms, appreciating solitude, and contemplating the night sky. He loved reading (he was never without his Kindle), gaming, and playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).  Joshua showed his empathy for people, along with his integrity, through his work as an EMT and as a lifeguard.

 

He also enjoyed traveling, fishing, spending time at the Northwest Angle cabin and scuba diving with his family. After his high school graduation he wanted to mark the event by skydiving, and even managed to convince both of his parents and a cousin to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with him.

 

He graduated from the Lake of the Woods High School in 2018. While in high school, he was a part of STUDS (an anti-drug group) and he was often seen holding court on the red couch in the STUDS office, where fellow students came to talk to him and he would share his philosophical thoughts. This happened so often that someone put up a sign that said “Need Advice? The Doctor is In. Birchem's Corner.” He also loved being part of Knowledge Bowl and played percussion in the band.

 

He was a sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN at the time of his death. While there, he continued playing D&D, was part of a book club, and, to the surprise of his friends and family, joined a swing dancing group.

 

A Celebration of Life in honor of Joshua will be held on Sunday, November 3 at 1:00 p.m. on the banks of the Rapid River near Carp (2788 Bankton Road SW, Baudette, MN). In lieu of flowers, donations can be given to Dollars for Scholars at Lake of the Woods School for a scholarship in Joshua's name, which will be given to a student who has struggled in some way. (Make checks out to “Dollars for Scholars” - PO Box 252, Baudette, MN 56623).

 

Joshua had a deep spirit and was a gifted writer who appreciated the mystery of life. He will be deeply mourned by his family and friends who will miss his thoughtful presence and his unique insight into the world, an example of which is shared below. 

 

A Thank You Note To The Universe

By Joshua Birchem

 

Stars that gleam and shine

Like jewels in a diamond mine

Dark holes that threaten and menace

And heavens like an oasis in the desert

So I thank you universe

Because what would be the meaning of life

If we knew everything.

                                                        March 2012

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