Iowa State University student remembered for his faith and love for the weather


The Lutheran Church in Atlantic, Iowa, where an Iowa State University student who died in a car crash two days before Christmas was a member posted to social media the day he visited, “Every person receives the donation of time on this earth to live, learn, love and leave a legacy.

While the one-line post did not specifically mention the late Avery Andersen, it seemed fitting as people came in numbers that surprised even Andersen’s parents to remember and honor life, learning, the love and inheritance of their son, including as a man of faith. , a big fan of Cyclone and a chaser of cyclones and other extreme weather events.

Andersen, 20, died on December 23 after his car lost traction on a frost-covered road about a mile from his home in the Atlantic and rolled into a ditch.

Andersen was a Class of 2019 at Atlantic High School, studying meteorology in the state of Iowa, and a long-time member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in the Atlantic.

His mother, Sue Andersen, said the church had been set up to accommodate 400 people for her son’s funeral on Tuesday and the church was full.

She and her husband, Steve Andersen, Avery’s father, said members of their son’s fellowship, young people from the church, members of the Bible camp he worked in and some of his former students from the ‘Atlantic High School all volunteered to sing in the service without being asked. .

In addition to his visit the day before, friends had gathered for a candlelight vigil at the church on the night of Avery’s death, and Steve said the church was full at that time as well.

He and his wife remembered after the funeral why their son would want him to be remembered and what they hope he will be remembered.

“We have more weather radios in this house than I think at Best Buy”

Avery’s obituary indicates that he was born during an ice storm on February 24, 2001, during the state wrestling tournament in Des Moines. Steve explained that he worked for a radio station covering the tournament and was live before he got a call from Sue, informing her that her water had ruptured while she was at their hotel.

He said he dropped his headphones and was out, beating Sue and a friend who was accompanying him to the hospital after what Sue described as a “very slow and scary journey.”

She said what really sparked Avery’s interest in the weather was the summer of 2004, when Avery was 3 and the family spent a lot of time in their basement under the warnings of tornado.

They tried to explain to their scared little boy what was going on, and from there they said, that’s all he wanted to talk about.

Steve said Avery could identify the model of a weather siren simply by the sound it made. “We have more weather radios in this house than I think at Best Buy,” Sue added.

Once he could drive, Avery chased the storms in his 2005 Buick Century – “He didn’t really care what his car was,” Steve said, “just that it worked.”

Avery had a separate Twitter profile for his Storm Tracker, which featured a pinned tweet explaining that he wanted to use the account to document any experiences he had “doing what I love.”

Steve said Avery was excited when major national news outlets recovered footage he captured of a windstorm sweeping dust from a dry cornfield near town.

While storms were his calling, his faith was his cornerstone

Avery’s passions, however, included more than storm chasing.

He played the trumpet for the Cyclone Hockey Pep Band and the piano. He also sang the national anthem during Des Moines Buccaneers games, including the team’s home game against the Omaha Lancers on the Friday before his death.

Steve said Avery couldn’t skate, but he was learning. Despite this, he embraced the sport. An aunt had taken him to Bucs games at a young age and he was also a Boston Bruins fan.

Avery was also a counselor and lifeguard at the Ingham Okoboji Lutheran Bible Camp.

Sue said he mainly worked with families who spent a week at camp together, helping them with activities and leading Bible studies. Being a lifeguard allowed her to continue working during the pandemic, even when the camp reduced the number of people who could attend.

“He would have done it for free,” considering what Avery took from the camp, spiritually, Steve said.

Avery Andersen, pictured, an Iowa State University who was killed in a car crash on December 23, 2021, was studying meteorology.  Passionate about the subject from a young age, his father said that his son could determine the model of a weather siren by sound.

Camp director Rod Quanbeck wrote on social media that when Avery was young he had “already touched so many lives with his continued encouragement, his love for creation (especially the sky and the weather) and by sharing the love and life of God with others! Well done, good and faithful servant.

Steve said he hopes Avery remembers “the man of faith that he was.”

Avery, like his father, was involved in Greek life and was a member of the Iowa State Chapter of the Beta Sigma Psi Lutheran Brotherhood.

Trevor Roubadeaux – Avery’s roommate, brother in law and meteorology classmate – said Avery represented the spirituality of the brotherhood well.

Roubadeaux said Avery always took notes that God had a reason and a plan for people’s lives, and that he kept Bible study updates on his whiteboard.

Avery “wanted to be a scientist” – and meteorology is what called him

Steve said that while Avery loved to preach and share the Word, “he wanted to be a scientist” and meteorology was what called him.

Sue said she knew Avery’s goal in meteorology was to be able to warn people of severe weather conditions and give them time to get to safety.

She also said that Avery specifically wanted to be a broadcast meteorologist. Having been a performer since his days in school plays, in a choir, and in a band, “I think it was natural – he enjoyed being in front of the camera.”

“There were too many performances in this boy to be backstage,” she said.

Videos shared on Avery’s Twitter account showed his on-air work with “Cy’s Eyes on the Skies,” a student-run television weather program produced by the Iowa State Student Chapter of the American. Meteorological Society.

The chapter tweeted over Christmas, “We are going to miss Avery around our program; he always brought laughter and energy wherever he was, and he was becoming a key member of our show this semester.

Roubadeaux said Avery “put his heart and soul into everything he does,” setting himself apart in meteorology with his enthusiasm and smiles.

“I hope people will remember how sweet he was, how sweet he was,” he said.

Roubadeaux added that Avery also has a strong personal motivation to be a hard worker, something he hopes to pursue in his own career and faith.

Avery was disappointed not to be home for the December derecho, when one of the many tornadoes that day made landfall nearby and Steve said the storm chasers were within a mile of their house.

Avery posted on Facebook: “Yes, there was a tornado over the North Atlantic today. Passed just north of my house. Of course, that’s when I’m not home, though.

Like this tornado, people who knew Avery described his life as powerful, even if it was short.

“Obviously we are crushed,” his father said. “But we are also very proud of our son.”

“Knowing him meant a lot,” Roubadeaux said, adding that it was difficult for him to come to know Avery and is now deceased. “I didn’t expect it to be so soon.”

Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including the Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be contacted by email at He’s on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.


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