May 1, 2013

Chance hospital meeting spurs son to direct some of father’s memorials to recovering Garden City man

Charlie Drussel told Tim Swanson he didn’t need to worry about his father dying.

Charlie Drussel told Tim Swanson he didn’t need to worry about his father dying.

Drussel assured him that Jay Swanson was going to a peaceful place.

Jay Swanson, a well-known Wichita businessman, died Monday. And now Tim Swanson wants some of his father’s memorials to go to the man who helped him prepare for his father’s death.

Drussel met the Swansons at Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital recently.

The Eagle wrote about Drussel on Wednesday. Doctors amputated the Garden City man’s legs after a Dec. 26 accident in which a gas can he was holding exploded, setting him on fire.

As flames consumed him that day in his shop, he said he kneeled and asked the Lord to take him because he didn’t think his wife could handle what was ahead.

Instead of complaining about losing his legs, Drussel has been grateful to still be alive, say his wife, Sherry, and Via Christi staff members.

Tim Swanson said his father overheard Drussel talking at the hospital about being on dialysis and asked to shake his hand, impressed by his spirit.

“ ‘I want to touch him,’ ” Tim Swanson recalled his father saying.

So Tim Swanson wheeled his father over to Drussel.

“ ‘Sir, I just want you to know that I’ve seen Jesus twice, and it’s the most amazing experience you’ll witness,’ ” Tim Swanson said Drussel told his father.

Saddened by his dad’s sudden spiral from a blood clot, Tim Swanson later asked Drussel if he’d talk to him more about his father and Drussel agreed to.

Drussel mentioned his brief contacts with the Swansons in an interview Tuesday with The Eagle but didn’t know much about the family. He said he felt good, though, helping a grieving son prepare for his father’s death.

On Wednesday, Tim Swanson read The Eagle’s story about Drussel and decided that some of his father’s memorials should go to the man who shook his dad’s hand.

“He had told me, ‘I felt something in your dad’s hand,’ ” Tim Swanson said, breaking down in tears. “It was the most touching story ever. Charlie gave me the last part of the chapter for my dad.”

“This has been heavy on my heart since the day I saw him,” Tim Swanson said Wednesday.

The family has set up memorials to other organizations, including Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice. But it’s Tim Swanson’s hope that many of his father’s friends will remember Jay Swanson by giving memorials to Drussel.

“My dad has always been a person to give to those more in need,” he said. “I’m going to have Charlie mentioned at the service. That would have been my father’s wishes. We need more people like him.”

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