As Brandon Gonzales' family braces for a long road of legal battles, Timothy Grant's loved ones remember a husband, father and dear friend.
Grant met his wife Sherry while the two were students at the Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music in the early 1980s. The two later wed in Feb. 1984.
A huge outdoors enthusiast, Grant often took long road trips, visiting dozens of state and national parks during his 54-year-long life.
Christianity was the cornerstone to Grant’s existence, attending Twin Branch Bible Church in Mishawaka from 1990 – 2003. It wasn't a rift, but rather a desire to evangelize to college students that led Grant and his family to leave Twin Branch and create a home church.
From 2003 until his untimely death, Grant led more than 100 young people in their walk with Jesus Christ. Many came from local schools like Notre Dame and Bethel College. Others included a pregnant teen kicked out of her home and a woman struggling with an eating disorder.
"For him, church was your neighborhood; church was the people you met at the grocery store. There was nothing you couldn't share with him. That's part of the reason he was a father figure and spiritual figure to so many people,” Grant’s youngest son Tyler, 26, said.
In a Monday afternoon sit-down interview with NewsCenter 16, Tyler and his brother Jonathon, 28, fondly remembered having large gatherings and backyard camp-outs at their home as teenagers. Their dad, a lover of Louis L'Amour westerns and historical fiction novels, would put his reading aside to cater a unique sense of life to the party.
"There was nothing you couldn't share with him because he wanted to know you and he wanted to care about you. Whatever that looked like, he was willing and ready for it," Tyler Grant added.
Although a dedicated and talented worker, Grant’s sons say their dad never took work too seriously. A 29-year veteran of Manchester Tank and Equipment, an Elkhart manufacturer of commercial propane tanks, Grant often rode his Raleigh mountain bike the 5.9 miles to his job.
That’s just what he was doing around 5:30 a.m. Saturday when he was hit and killed along Jefferson Rd. A bicycle safety advocate, Grant was wearing a helmet and had red flashing lights on his bicycle when he was struck by Brandon Gonzales, 22, of Mishawaka. Police say the US Army veteran was drunk and speeding at the time of the crash.
"I would want him to know that as a family, we forgive him. I hope that he is able to receive that. It's a difficult thing to be forced to live with your mistakes and I wouldn't wish that on anybody,” Tyler Grant added.
Grant knew the risk of sharing the road with drivers all too well. In the early 1990s, a car nearly hit him, forcing him to crash land onto a curb and tree lawn. That sudden impact injured his right shoulder, a wound that never truly healed.
Now all this time later, Grant's family begins a healing process of its own, turning to faith to make sense of this tragedy.
"Brandon didn't choose to hurt us; he made other choices that did hurt us. What I feel is loss. I feel the loss of someone I love and wish I still had, but hurt on hurt doesn't do anybody any good,” Tyler Grant concluded.
Grant's viewing will take place Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. His funeral will follow Wednesday at 2 p.m. Both services will commence at Twin Branch Bible Church located at 3807 Vistula Rd. in Mishawaka.
There will be no burial, as the avid bicyclist wished to be cremated.
To read a handwritten letter by Timothy Grant's surviving father, just click on the document icon below this story.