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'A special boy'
Derek Lendosky remembered
Derek Lendosky
Derek Lendosky

UPDATE: Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista tweeted Friday he intended to dedicating that evening's game against the Oakland Athletics to Derek.

The hashtag #JoseBautistaGameForDerek gained momentum in the 24 hours prior to the game as supporters of the cause sent tweets to Bautista requesting him to dedicate a game in memory of Derek.

When the Lendosky family attended an interleague game between the Brewers and Blue Jays last June, Bautista threw Derek a ball.

"Bautista threw a ball right to Derek and he caught it,” Derek’s father, Steve recalls. “He was Derek’s favorite ballplayer.”

Entering the game, Bautista was batting .260 this season with 25 home runs and 68 RBIs.

Steve planned to watch the game and cheer on Bautista, now one of his favorite players as well.

TOWN OF FENNIMORE — A Fennimore family and the city’s residents last week mourned the death of a 9-year-old boy who died as the result of a farming accident Sunday afternoon, Aug. 4.

Authorities responded to a 9-1-1 call in Fennimore Township at approximately 2:49 p.m. Fennimore EMS and the Fennimore Fire Department responded to the scene, but Derek Lendosky died as a result of his injuries.

In the days following the accident, Derek was remembered  as a special young man.

“Derek was a great kid,” said Fennimore Elementary School Principal Carmen Burkum. “Some of the things that stand out are he was a terrific friend.

“Derek had a huge group of friends, but he was a friend to more than those in that group.”
Derek completed third grade earlier this year. He was honored in June as a points leader in the Accelerated Reader program. He also earned a physical fitness award.

“Derek was a terrific athlete,” said Burkum. “He and his friends were always playing some kind of ball on the playground.”

Derek and friends organized a Fennimore Elementary School Super Bowl last school year.

“There were cheerleaders and fans and they had a draft,” said Burkum. “They even made tickets.
“The kids were telling me about it today.”

Burkum and elementary school guidance counselor Krystle Koelker met with summer school students Monday morning.

Considering his father, Steve, was once an accounting major, it is no surprise Derek excelled at crunching numbers.
“Derek was a wonderful student and particularly excelled in math,” said Burkum. “He kept our teachers on their toes in their math.”

Derek was a student in Brenda Bunn’s kindergarten class during the 2009–10 school year.

“I was so blessed to have him in my class in kindergarten,” said Bunn. “He was a one in a million, and as a kindergartner, he could tell you how many zeros were in a million.

“He was a model student. You couldn’t ask for better.”

Even as a kindergartner, Derek’s personality warmed the hearts of those who knew him.

“Derek was so bubbly and he had a love for everything,” said Bunn. “He would make you laugh and his smile went from ear to ear.

“He had such a kind heart. I loved him. He was gentleman of a kid.”

Rev. Chuck Miller found Derek to be a familiar face each week in the pews at St. Peter Lutheran Church.

“Derek was the oldest son, and he fit that role well,” said Miller. “By that, I mean he was responsible, polite and obedient.

“In church he was always very respectful. That is a neat trait in a kid.”

A future star in the making on the playing field, Derek was also an avid Milwaukee Brewers fan.

“Derek was his generation’s Wayne Raymond,” said Miller. “If you wanted to know what the Brewers were doing, you just had to talk to Derek.

“Whether it was batting averages or ERA, he was an encyclopedia like that.”

Miller’s daughter, Bethany, taught Derek as a Sunday School student.

“She told me Derek is an amazing kid because he is really bright, yet he is not arrogant,” said Miller. “He would work to help other kids learn stuff. She was just so impressed with how he was that way. He was a caring, compassionate kid.”

Joining Derek each Sunday in the pews at St. Peter Lutheran Church were his father and mother, Brandee.

“The other piece I think about when I think about him is he really had good parents,” said Miller. “He had a mom who loved him and taught him to pray, and cared for him, and a dad who loved him and was there for him.”

As a neighbor to the Lendosky family, Leslie Larson has watched Derek grow.

“Derek was the kid that could always make you smile,” she said. “He was always a goofball and always the life of the party. There was something about him, the way he could light up a room.”

Joined by his brother Lucas, 9, and sister Peyton, 6, Derek and other neighborhood children gathered at the Lendosky residence Saturday night to watch thousands of bees be corralled.

“My kids loved him like a brother,” said Larson. “All the kids in our neighborhood did. He was just such a special boy.”