Gypsum dad died a hero
GYPSUM, Colorado – Ronald “R.T.” Gonsoir died a hero and his daughter lives because of it, say family members.
Searchers recovered his body from Wolford Reservoir last Monday, his 47th birthday.
His viewing and memorial service are scheduled for next week. The viewing is 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11 at the Everett Funeral Home, in Gypsum; the memorial service is 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13, at the Eagle Information Center in Eagle.
Here’s what we know from those who were there.
Gonsoir and his daughters took the water toys to Wolford Reservoir near Kremmling, a boat Waverunner and other things – one of their favorite things to do.
His two daughters met his girlfriend, Dawn Jander, Friday night. Saturday morning, he cooked breakfast for the crew, and they hit the water.
Mid-afternoon saw them back on the water, and the tragedy that awaited them.
One daughter was in the boat with Gonsoir and another was on the Waverunner with Jander. No one’s sure how the daughter with Gonsoir wound up in the water, but she did, and she was sinking into water that could kill her.
The water wasn’t abnormally cold, 71 degrees that day, so that wasn’t the problem.
But when you’re daughter is sinking you dive in to save her, no matter what she’s sinking in.
Goisoir did exactly that. He reached her in time and pulled her to the surface, to air and life, rolling her onto his back while he tried to stay afloat.
Eventually, he sacrificed himself to save her. His daughter bravely tried to tread water while holding his face above the surface.
Boaters nearby heard nothing, but saw the daughter slipping below the surface when they turned their boat north instead of south as they’d planned. They rushed over to yank her to the surface and out of the water just before she, too, slipped away.
The boaters flagged down Jander, who sped over. They told her they’d pulled the girl out and she was safe, but that she’d told them her daddy was under the water.
Jander and the boaters frantically started combing the area, screaming Gonsoir’s name.
Park rangers soon joined the search, using their boats and Gonsoir’s, which had washed onto the shore in a cove not far away.
The search continued until 5:05 p.m. Monday, when Gonsoir’s body was finally recovered, two full days after he saved his daughter’s life.
That Monday was his 47th birthday.
“He’s a hero, and she’s alive because of it,” said Gonsoir’s brother-in-law Frenchy Cusson.
Ronald “R.T.” Gonsoir was born in Graceville, Minn., Aug. 2, 1963.
He attended Browns Valley School in Browns Valley, Minn., and moved to Colorado in the early 1980s. He soon started his businesses, Simon Sez and Airlink.
He is survived by daughters Delainie and Keegan Gonsoir, of Steamboat Springs; his mother Shirley Winters, of Browns Valley, Minn.; sisters Sherry Cusson (husband Frenchy), of Eagle, Chelly Lewendowski, of Watertown, S.D.; brothers Gerry Torgerson, of Huron, S.D., Burt Gonsoir, of Browns Valley, Minn.; many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his brother Rodney Torgerson, grandparents, his uncle Harold Krone and his aunt Luanna Krone.
“The most important thing in R.T.’s life was his girls,” says his sister Sherry.
He enjoyed camping, boating, traveling, snowmobiling, riding his Harley and more.
“He was a very giving man. He would do anything for anybody. He was a very loving father,” Sherry says.
Friends and colleagues say R.T. was known by many for his “yelling” on the job sites, but at the end of the day all was forgotten and all laughed and thanked each other for a good day’s work.
His sister Sherry says she will always remember him telling her “You ain’t all there are ya?”
A fund is being established to help pay for his daughters’ counseling as they cope with the tragedy.
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