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On Drew Storey: The toughest thing I've done this year

Underwriting support from:
Best friends: Matt Russell and Drew Storey

Best friends: Matt Russell and Drew Storey

The first time I met Drew Storey I never would have thought that I’d soon be in a van with him, driving into the middle of someone else’s cornfield to drink whiskey, smashing a Batman piñata, watching him paint his abstract vision of A Brave New World, or dressing up like Santa Claus and running around Grand Rapids.

I never would have thought he would get such a kick out of me Photoshopping his friends, family and coworkers into zombies; drinking port wine and playing the bongos until 5 a.m. while reading Tuesday’s With Morrie like a southern Baptist minister; riding my bike across the state to bring him a growler of a tasty porter or crying over Jack Kerouac.

That was only four years ago and I can’t say I’ve ever met another who could bring so much honesty, unhindered curiosity and love of simple creation to life. No matter how feasible the idea, if it caught Drew’s interest, he was in 100 percent.

From small dreams of subverting, fleecing and smashing the status quo that was modern society, Drew never lost sight. His screenplays, his short films, his zine, Bag Mag, his dedication to community journalism, his DIY projects, and a not-so-subtle inclination to create dialogue through conflict were infectious. The passion he held each with certainly took hold of me several times, leading to a combination of graffiti, Woody Guthrie and guerilla sandwich handouts.

Drew’s family certainly knew how dear he held his ideals, as he loved them even more. His two little girls brought wider smiles and a more caring heart than I’ve ever seen in a person. His wife kept him steady at the helm of his journey and gave him strength at every new venture. His brothers and parents were always proud of him. No matter the setback, Drew could turn loss into astonishing opportunity and was an example to others of how to do so.

You can look at the pictures of Drew and his family, listen to their stories and see that he never missed a day wringing out of life every sweet and scary moment. Drew’s children are young and may not remember every detail of their father’s life with them. I certainly do and know for a fact that they could never wish for a more courageous, more loving, more steadfast father than him.

When someone like Drew Storey comes into your life and then disappears, it seems like only seconds have passed. From where I’m sitting right now in my office at Advance Newspapers, I can still see the plastic Big Boy bank Drew used to have on his computer—it bore a striking resemblance. I can still hear him telling me that I hit the space bar too hard and that it keeps him from napping at work. I can still have conversations in my head with him about the movies we would want to see, the books we’ve read, or the next protest event we planned to attend.

When I heard the news Sunday that Drew was gone, I wasn’t sure what I would do. I had lost a best friend and the world suddenly became a much larger place than I was comfortable with. I think Drew would know how to answer that question. He would probably tell me that it’s not “what do I do” or “how did this happen.” It’s “If you’re not going to throw yourself into life head on now, then when?”

Thanks, Drew. You always have the answers. 

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"If it caught Drew’s interest, he was in 100 percent."

He never half-assed anything! So earnest! I loved how determined he was to plan our Rapidian retreat/tour of Michigan microbreweries!

Thank you for sharing your story and friendship with the Rapidian family. It's tough to lose a friend... keep his memory in your heart and treasure everything you can remember. These will keep him alive.

great piece of writing Matt...thanks