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Strong Women, Strong Families

How One Local Mom Persevered Through Tragedy

What started out as a fun day at the community pool on May 21, 2019, ended in tragedy for Brentwood resident Lizz Krummel and her family. 

At the age of 42, Kurt Krummel, a bigger-than-life husband, dad and coach died. “We were just a regular Brentwood family -- two working parents, two third-grade boys, and three dogs,” says Lizz. “We did yard work, we grocery shopped. You hear about tragedies on TV all the time, and I think everyone's natural reaction is, ‘Oh, that doesn't happen to people like us.’”

Sadly, it did happen to them, but fortunately for Lizz, she had incredible family and community support. They surrounded her and her twin boys, Roger and Cortland, who were only 8 years old at the time, those first few months to help in any way they could, even if it was just quietly sitting by her side.

“At first, accepting help was a tough one for me because I'm a pretty independent person,” she says. “But, there are some days where you just need someone to be there with you. I had a lot of friends that just sat with me and patiently waited until I was ready to talk or go to dinner or do whatever. They were just relentless in their care of me and my boys.”

Right after the accident, her parents and brothers traveled from Colorado, where Lizz grew up. Her mother, Lynn Lown, stayed on for the entire summer, becoming a pillar of strength for the family. Having been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2017 and enduring two years of chemotherapy, radiation, and a double mastectomy, she understood the challenges life can throw at you. Lynn finished treatment in March of 2019, and her son-in-law died that May.

“My husband absolutely adored her,” says Lizz. “He used to love when my mom stayed with us. For three months straight after the accident, she never left our sides. She's just an incredible individual with everything she's been through and survived. She's on a plane at the drop of a hat, anytime I need something or have to travel for work.”

Lizz says she and her mom have always been incredibly close -- she was actually born on her mom’s birthday. Even before the accident, Lynn always made sure to visit regularly. She was a high school teacher and would come for long weekends, and now that she's retired, she often spends a month or more with her daughter and grandsons to help out in any way she can.

Her father, Gary, also has been there for them. “My dad’s been a real trouper,” she says. “He was there through my mom's illness, and he's all in on whatever the boys and I need.”

In addition to being an unexpectedly single mom, Lizz is also a full-time health care executive. “I'm the vice president of human resources for a company based in Franklin,” she says. “Our CEO, and the group that I'm with, not only respect me as a professional, but they also respect me as a parent.”

Adds Lizz, “I'm incredibly lucky in a lot of ways. I've got these two boys who are just amazing. Kurt died a week before their 9th birthdays, and their dad was all things to them. He was their little league baseball coach; he was their basketball coach. He was the head tennis pro at Old Natchez Country Club. He also coached all the kids in our neighborhood. So, it was a huge loss to them and the entire community in terms of the people he impacted.”

Her boys play with Showcase Baseball. “A friend of my husband’s, Drew Muirhead, took over coaching the team. [His son plays on the team and is her boy's best friend.] I also volunteer coach on the team, and coached flag football for the first time ever this year. I will never shy away from the opportunity to be involved in my kids' lives. Although it may not be the typical for mom to be out on the football field, the boys seem to be fine with it. We had a ton of fun and I think it is, quite frankly, one of the things that brings us so much joy as a family.”

Although there's been a lot of grief during the last three years, Lizz feels grateful. “I have this incredible supportive community, friends who are just incredible people, and a wonderful family. I also have a really great career.”

Her advice to others who have also suffered a major loss:  “I think if you can refocus and look at all of the things that are left in front of you instead of dwelling on how big your loss is, it helps you to keep going. You might not be OK today, you might not be OK tomorrow, but you will be OK. It’s been three years now -- the boys are off to middle school and love it. Professionally, I'm the happiest I've ever been.”

Of course, says Lizz, the loss always will be there, and this time of year, around the anniversary of her husband’s death, is always difficult. “My mom, my grandma, the women in my life helped mold me. You have two choices -- you can fold up your tent and quit or you can keep going. Moving forward is what I’ve tried to do and what I'm going to continue to do. I try to give my very best to my boys, to my family.

“I never want them to forget all of the great things their father did and who he was. And if they can live a really normal, happy childhood and life and be successful in all the ways I think they're going to be, then that's what makes it all worth it.”