A year later, it's only fitting John Flaiz is remembered and celebrated with a coed sand volleyball tournament at the Grove Inn.
Flaiz, 29, was killed last Aug. 27 in a boating crash near Hogback Island on the Mississippi River. His body was never recovered.
The Aug. 18 John Flaiz Memorial Tournament will benefit the Quincy Salvation Army food pantry. The Salvation Army brought food for emergency personnel, volunteers and family to the Mississippi River during the search for Flaiz, and his fiance, Michelle Terwelp, hasn't forgotten the acts of kindness during a terrible time.
Like many, Terwelp still wonders exactly what happened on that dark night.
"It's a mystery," Terwelp says. "It's like, poof, he just went up and disappeared. We'll probably never know."
What is known is that Flaiz's boat was idling and struck by another boat, and he was knocked into the river. The woman who was driving the other craft was cited for reckless boating and the case is still pending. Terwelp was babysitting and not with Flaiz that night.
"We still can't believe what happened," says Terwelp, a marketing project manager at Mercantile Bank in Quincy. "I can't believe how fast the time has gone. I have good days, bad days. It gets easier every day but it's still hard. Family and friends have helped keep me busy."
For the first week or so, friends and family held out hope, hope for a miracle, hope Flaiz had somehow gotten to shore or drifted to a nearby island. But a massive search revealed nothing. Terwelp says she realized after about five to seven days that her fiance was gone.
As time went by, she was decided sitting around and moping wasn't going to help.
"I needed to get back to a routine," says Terwelp, 28. "Just sitting there staring at the river wasn't healthy."
So she went back to work about a week after the accident. In October, a memorial service took place for Flaiz at Blessed Sacrament, and many remembered a friendly young man who loved the outdoors and boating. Flaiz was an electrician, and he spent just about every warm summer weekend with Terwelp on the Mississippi River.
He loved sand volleyball, going to the Grove at 6510 Broadway three times a week with Terwelp to play in leagues.
The service helped somewhat with closure. Terwelp says she still wishes she knew exactly what happened to her fiance, but she may never know.
"His personality," Terwelp says, when asked what she wants people to remember about Flaiz. "He was everybody's friend and everybody knew him. You couldn't go anywhere without somebody knowing him and saying hello to him."
Last March, Terwelp helped organize a volleyball tournament in Flaiz's memory for the Quincy Family Y, and it raised more than $4,000 for the Y's Strong Kids Campaign. Terwelp plans to make it an annual event.
As for the Grove tournament, 10 teams already have signed up and there's only room for 16. Call (217) 242-2500 for more information.
"We'd love it even if you just want to come hang out," Terwelp says. "Share stories, talk, visit, just hang out."