In Farmington, Minn., one little boy is missing his best friend. 5-year-old Emmett Rychner and 91-year-old Erling Kindem went viral in 2014 for their adorable friendship.
Kindem and Rychner were neighbors, but they connected like old friends. The World War II veteran and the toddler met two years ago and bonded over tomatoes. Kindem grew them in his garden, and the then-3-year-old Rychner loved to come ask if he could snack on them. Before long, the two were racing their John Deere tractors (Rychner’s was a miniature one) and playing croquet. They even went on a bike ride together.
“I thought there’s no way he’s gonna get on this bike,” Anika Rychner (Emmett’s mom) told KARE 11 after seeing the elderly Kindem mount his old bicycle. “Am I going to have to call 911? Please don’t fall over,” she joked.
Unfortunately, their friendship became long-distance as the Rychners had to move to a larger house to accommodate their growing family, and Kindem had to move to an assisted living facility.
Kindem will be missed by more than just the Rychners, though. He and his late wife, Joyce, had five children and eight grandchildren. His family stated that Erling passed away on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the elder care facility where he lived.