Basketball courts

Slain NDSU student to be memorialized with basketball courts in his Minnesota hometown – InForum

SARTELL, Minn. – A North Dakota State University student whose mysterious 2014 death remains unsolved will be commemorated in a way directly related to his favorite hobby in his central Minnesota hometown.

The nonprofit Tom Bearson Foundation and the city of Sartell will build three regulation high school basketball courts there in a city park this spring.

One of the six hoops to be installed will be the very one Tom Bearson used so often in his home growing up.

Artist’s impression of the Tom Bearson Memorial Courts to be built in Sartell, Minnesota.

Tom Bearson Foundation

The foundation will commit $150,000 to the project, of which $100,000 has yet to be raised, according to its website.

The city of Sartell will invest approximately $75,000 in the project.

Bearson, 18 and in school for only a month, disappeared in the early morning hours of Saturday, September 20, 2014, after leaving a house party near the NDSU campus.

Her body was found across the Red River in Moorhead in the parking lot of a motorhome company three days later. That night, NDSU students gathered on campus for a candlelight vigil for him.

The chief investigator for the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul said Bearson’s cause of death was asphyxiation or oxygen deprivation.

Since the manner of death was homicide, the investigator ruled out accident, suicide or natural causes.

Last fall, almost seven years after Bearson’s death, his father called again on those responsible for identification.

Greg Bearson told the Forum that the only way for those involved to overcome the guilt is to reveal the truth.

“Until then, you will never find peace in your life,” he said at the time.

Tom Bearson was an outstanding basketball player at Sartell High School, where he graduated in 2013.

At a Sartell Town Council meeting on April 25, Greg Bearson gave a presentation on the planned Tom Bearson Memorial Courts.

He said that after Tom died, the family kept asking, “Why Tom?”

It left them wondering about the meaning of their lives, he told the council, and the people of Sartell were crucial to their healing.

Artist's rendering of the entrance to the courts
Artist’s impression of the Tom Bearson Memorial Courts to be built in Sartell, Minnesota.

Tom Bearson Foundation

Greg Bearson went on to list the things the family have learned including that giving to others is food for the soul and that “happiness can be found in the dark if only one learns to turn on the light”.

In the nearly eight years since the homicide, the Tom Bearson Foundation has raised $130,000 for good deeds, including scholarships, funds for the Sartell Community Center and an annual celebration of Tommy B. Night high school basketball.

The Tom Bearson Memorial Courts will be the foundation’s final project, Greg Bearson said, to focus on providing scholarships to Sartell students.

The three courts, which will be built in Pinecone Central Park, will feature high-quality custom tiles from a former basketball court in Sartell.

Aerial view of one of the courts
Artist’s impression of the Tom Bearson Memorial Courts to be built in Sartell, Minnesota.

Tom Bearson Foundation

In addition to its financial commitment, the city will provide the land, donate the time and labor of city teams, and oversee the project.

Donations for the memorial project can be mailed to The Tom Bearson Foundation, PO Box 351, Sartell, MN 56377.

Contributions can also be made through Paypal on the foundation’s website at www.tombearson.org/memorial-basketball-courts.

Sartell-St. Stephen Newsleader reporter Dennis Dalman contributed to this report.