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Beloved family loses son in accident, community reaches out

I just happened to catch a speech by Whidbey News-Times Publisher Marcia Van Dyke as she addressed the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce this week, and something she said really touched my heart.

She said that as community papers, we celebrate the victories, successes and joys of our community members, and we also grieve with our neighbors and support them in some of their most difficult times. Two of our beloved neighbors have been in Chicago this past week grieving the loss of a son.

Mike and Sydney Hoffman, best known for their wonderful Island Bakery, once located in Freeland, received the horrible news that Sydney’s son, Michael Dahlquist, was killed in an auto accident last week in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Ill.

Michael and two co-workers were stopped at a light on their way back from lunch, when a 23-year-old woman on an apparent suicide attempt plowed into the rear of Michael’s car. Witnesses say she was allegedly driving in excess of 70 mph and had already run three stop lights before meeting Michael’s car and killing the three men. She confessed to wanting to “end it all” after having a fight with her mother before getting into her Ford Mustang and driving off. The national media is now following the story as attorneys gather and court dates are set.

Mike and Sydney are my neighbors, literally, and to see the pain they are in right now is almost too much to bear.

On an upside, it’s been a week of learning a lot about Michael and his life in Chicago, and also his life as a drummer for the band Silkworm.

The band’s spokesman Tim Midgett said the band is done, as Michael will never be able to be replaced. A network of friends and family are grieving a life best described by his brother Adam Dahlquist, who said Michael fit the lives of five people into one body.

The entire family is amazed at all Michael had going on, and how many people’s lives he touched and enriched. As a “made member” of the Hoffman-Dahlquist clan, I consider myself one of the people richer for knowing Michael and hearing about the fun he was up to with Silkworm, his web projects and more. All you have to do is type “Michael Dahlquist” into your web browser and there will be enough reading material for you to catch up on some of his projects.

I spent some time this week cruising through the band’s website, www.silkworm.net, and was moved by the love his friends wrote about on the site’s forum. I knew him for minutes. They knew him lifetimes. Tim will be submitting an obituary in the coming week, so I will leave it up to him, one of Michael’s closest friends to highlight Michael’s short 39-year life.

Now it’s our time, as neighbors to support our beloved neighbors Mike and Sydney.

They are planning a memorial potluck for Michael at their home on Sunday, July 31. Friends from around the country will take an afternoon to celebrate this life cut short. Although his brothers Adam, Stuart Dahlquist, George Hoffman and Mike Hoffman Jr. would agree that this senseless accident left our world a great soul short, they would also tell you that what Michael did was live such a full life, most of us couldn’t accomplish half of what he did in our entire lifetimes.

More information will follow on the memorial gathering next week. If you have questions, feel free to email publisher@southwhidbeyrecord.com. Peace.

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