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Tyler Quidgeon's legacy teaches us quite a bit about humanity

Montville — The human brain is wired for logic and reason, to analyze life and its curveballs in some narrative that appeals to, well, our logic and reason. That's why faith and faithfulness are such a hard sell sometimes. Comprehending that which lies beyond, or cannot be explained without tangible evidence, defies our noggin's neurology.

Which is among the reasons death vexes all of us. It cannot always be explained. Even now in a world of perpetual, rapid information. Some things are left to greater forces.

This is what the Quidgeon family of Montville is left to process. The middle child, Tyler, 20, the former quarterback at Montville High, died last month while readying to attend Asa Junior College in Miami.

Tyler Quidgeon died of what was diagnosed as a potassium deficiency.

There are no words.

"It's devastating, honestly," his dad, Joe, was saying earlier this month, preparing for his son's memorial service held last week.

They will spend the rest of their lives missing Tyler, the Quidgeon family will, finding ways to honor his name and his memory. Tyler Quidgeon was just starting to figure out life before it was taken from him.

Quidgeon is a great nephew of Gladys Tantaquidgeon, a legendary name among the Mohegan Tribal Nation. The Quidgeons are proud tribal members. It meant that Tyler didn't lack for much in his life, among the reasons, perhaps, it took him some time to navigate.

He pinballed among St. Anselm, Three Rivers and Southern Connecticut before moving to Florida, living with relatives there, for college. His brother, Ryan, is a freshman tight end at Asa.

"We had some struggles," Joe Quidgeon said. "There was some stress. But I got a text message from Tyler a few weeks ago saying 'dad, I appreciate everything you've done for me. I know I did things my own way and I should have listened to you.'"

Tyler Quidgeon's epiphany came at 20 — well earlier than many of us experience ours — but still, unexplainably, an age that would be late in his life. He died in his sleep Aug.19.

"I don't think he thought anything was wrong with him," Joe Quidgeon said. "He probably felt normal. I was like potassium? Eat a banana. It turns out it was much more than that."

So was Tyler Quidgeon's life. Much more than the way it ended. Now the family wants to honor the young man who even surprised his loved ones with his selflessness.

"He was a giver," Joe Quidgeon said. "He would get a $40,000 trust fund check from the tribe. In high school, he played with kids who were homeless. He paid for a hotel room for them so they'd have a roof over the heads in the winter. He spent his money on other people. He helped unified basketball and special needs kids in Florida. A lot of stuff I never knew.

"The town has been so supportive. Such an outreach from the community. We want to do something to help youth football, maybe a scholarship at MHS, in his memory."

Quidgeon's death gives the rest of us pause as well. Many assumptions were made about a 20-year-old's sudden death, thinking it an overdose. Sadly, it's almost human nature now.

"Those assumptions are hurtful to everybody," Joe Quidgeon said. "If you knew Tyler, you know he wasn't into any of that."

But he was into helping others and not necessarily broadcasting it. And this is how his memory will live. Tyler Quidgeon had plenty in his life. He could have kept it all and decided not to share. Instead, perhaps showing character beyond his years, he used his time, talents and means to help.

His legacy, hardly for naught, teaches us quite a bit about humanity.

Maybe this is where faith enters.

Tyler Quidgeon is gone physically.

But his compassion can linger in any of us who believe there's more to life than hoarding what's ours.

He accomplished quite a bit in his 20 years.

And he can accomplish even more in death.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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