A car crash that took place eight months ago resulted in the death of North Dakota State student Danie Thomssen.
She was a freshman who was part of the Gold Star Marching Band for one semester. Despite her short membership as part of the band, she made a major impact.
Sigurd Johnson, director of athletic bands and percussion studies at NDSU, spoke about her vibrant personality and the imprint she left on the band. “We’ve had other people in the band who have gotten in accidents and passed away, so it’s always difficult,” Johnson said. “This seemed especially difficult.”
Two friends in Thomssen’s section were particularly close to her. “They were the three amigos,” Johnson said, and losing one of the three was hard.
“Over the summer they came up with some ideas of how we could remember Danie, honor her and her presence, even though it was a short time with us,” Johnson said. “To honor her memory and also provide some comfort for her family — to know their daughter made an impact.”
As a saxophone player, her death affected her section because of how close her section had become. Part of her section even went to high school with her at Bismarck Century High School, and two of those friends started thinking of ways to remember Thomssen.
“To ensure that we’re honoring her memory, they came up with the suggestion that we retire her drill number, A-17, like retiring a jersey for an athlete,” Johnson said.
“As well, we remember her presence in the stands by putting a band pillow in her section for her. We also gave one to her family to let them know we are thinking of her … it’s the least that we could do.”
Unknown to Johnson, the university also planted a tree in front of the music building to remember Danie. Johnson said that this tree is not one of mourning, but one of celebration, decorated with ribbons and flags and other festive things.
“I still have her picture down in my toolbar, and every once in a while I’ll pull it up,” Johnson said. “We take pictures of all the students to help me learn their names, and every once in a while I pull up Danie’s picture.”