David Grotberg’s legacy lives on at Baylor

Fergus Falls, Minn., sophomore David Grotberg, who died on Oct. 6 in a hit-and-run bicycle accident, strikes a pose in his Humans vs. Zombies attire. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Daniel Notman

By Joy Moton | Reporter and Brianna Bassett | Reporter

Trumpeters played a moving piece, cyclists from Minnesota took a silent ride in solidarity and choir members sang a tribute song. Bands from other universities paid their respects and massive groups of students and faculty throughout the Baylor community united to pay tribute to one young man: David Grotberg.

Grotberg was a sophomore honors student from Fergus Falls, Minn., who died in a hit-and-run accident on Oct. 6.

There was something peculiar that stood out among all of the tributes: members of the Honors Residential College wore orange bandanas. This item of clothing is significant and comes with a story about the young man who inspired its presence.

During an intense game of Humans vs. Zombies, students had been seeking shelter all day until finally they saw home from afar. The intense version of tag was simple: stay human and avoid getting turned into a zombie. As they got closer to the building, they noticed six figures posted in front of their haven. The individuals wore bold orange bandanas on their heads in rebellion, daring the students to come near the Honors Residential College. Then they saw him and knew all hope was lost. The alpha zombie himself, Grotberg, tagged the students out of the game.

This game always seemed to end with Grotberg rallying his team in triumph over the remaining humans. Hence, the orange bandanas were a symbol that captured the essence of who Grotberg was.

“Everybody put on orange bandanas on their heads just to pay homage to the ultimate alpha zombie – the guy who really is the beginning and the end of what it means to be the best at the game,” said Springfield, Mo., sophomore Noah Ward, a friend of Grotberg and fellow honors student.

As shown through his passion for the game, this determined young man turned many of his activities into a demonstration of his relentless resolve to excel beyond the norm. Grotberg’s friends described him as distinctive. Grotberg seemed to stand out in everything he did. He could even stand out in a crowd of over 300 band members.

“He played the trumpet, and they said that you could always spot him in the band,” said Katy senior Jamie Wheeler, one of Grotberg’s friends. “Whenever everyone had their trumpets lifted up, his would be lifted up a little higher. I feel that really encapsulates a lot about him.”

As a member of the Honors College, Baylor’s Interdisciplinary Core, the Golden Wave Marching Band and the Ballroom Dancing Society, Grotberg was always on the move. Ward noticed that he was constantly involved, even when it seemed impossible.

Ward described seeing Grotberg in the lobby of Alexander Hall, socializing and doing homework late at night, and waking up to find him dressed and ready to take on the next day.

“He was up later than I was and he was getting up before me,” Ward said. “It was absolutely crazy to see his sheer determination to keep doing what he loved, which was learning and to be involved with people.”

Still, Grotberg found time for his favorite activity: building relationships. He could be found in the lobby of Alexander Hall waiting for people to interact with, playing a game of pool with Ward or encouraging his peers to join him in his extroverted life.

Waco senior Andrew Baas, one of Grotberg’s close friends, said his favorite memory of Grotberg was the way he shared his sense of style. As Baas prepared for the Honors Residential College’s annual Fall Ball, he wore a nice button down, slacks and a sweater. He left for the ball content with his outfit until he heard a voice from down the hall say, “Now where do you think you’re going?”

“I turned around to see David dressed to the nine: nice suit, matching tie,” Baas said. “David looked up with his apparent disappointment with what I chose to wear.”

When Baas told Grotberg he didn’t have a suit, Grotberg searched all through the residence hall until he found someone with one that fit him.

“He helped me put together my wardrobe for the evening,” Baas said. “I can still remember the look on his face, the look of pride that he was able to get me a suit but also the pride of a somewhat younger brother that was able to learn something new.”

Whether through Humans vs. Zombies, a game of pool or something as simple has dressing well for a special occasion, Grotberg is remembered as one who refused to give anything less than his best.

“I think more than anything else, that encapsulates David – the idea of giving 100 percent at absolutely everything,” said Davie, Fla., senior Daniel Notman, Grotberg’s former community leader.

The various communities Grotberg left behind can attest to the legacy of his unwavering faith. Even through this difficult time of grief, they reflect on his confidence in God and find hope.

“I have found it comparatively easy to believe that God really does know what he is doing because I think about what David would say and how certain he would be that God knows what he is doing and that this is all going to be made right someday,” Wheeler said.

Baas said he will remember a lot of things about David, but above all, he will never forget Grotberg’s admiration for God.

“David loved his God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength and true to that he loved his neighbor as himself and he was the epitome of actually doing good things instead of talking about doing good things,” Baas said.

Despite his death, Grotberg’s legacy continues on, inspiring individuals within the communities he was a part of. Nothing captivates the narrative of Grotberg’s life more than these words of Noah Ward:

“He was a cyclist going 100 miles an hour, but if you looked long enough, you could see him flash by and the smile on his face with that,” Ward said.