Outpouring of grief for UPS driver killed at Accent Signageby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
A memorial service was held Thursday afternoon for UPS driver Keith Basinski, one of the five victims killed by a former employee of Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis last week.
His death prompted an outpouring of grief from his customers and colleagues.
For people in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis, Basinski was a familiar sight. He had worked at UPS for 29 years, delivering packages to customers like Gerry Seiler, the owner of a local gift shop. Seiler says Basinski was more than a delivery driver.
"He was caring. He always had a smile on his face," Seiler said. "The commitment to the community, his diligence. There was a schedule he had every day, but he always took that 30 seconds or that minute and half amount of time to have a conversation about feelings that maybe I was experiencing in the day or feelings with his family."
When neighbors learned of the shooting at Accent Signage and saw a UPS truck parked outside, they hoped and prayed that Basinski was safe. After they learned he had been killed, they gathered to create a memorial on a park bench along his delivery route.
Customers brought candles and notes. Seiler says Basinski's death has motivated people to follow his example.
"People that I've never hugged before, people that I've never touched before, people have come into my store and have shared their stories," Seiler said. "He was just the most lovely, humble person I'd ever met ... [who was] just doing his job."
Seiler said that in many ways, Basinski was the glue that held the neighborhood together. He would ask about a customer's sick child and offer a word of encouragement. The UPS driver also shared stories about his own family, including his three children, Brent, Alissa and Colton.
Hundreds of people came to Basinski's wake in Fridley on Wednesday night to say goodbye.
"There was just a sea of people, there was a constant flow of people getting in line, people you would recognize from Cupa Java, the coffee shop next to me," Seiler said. "The impact is unbelievable, I guess. I don't even know a better word. The impact that he made on people's lives."
Edward Reynoso, a spokesman for the Teamsters, the union that represents UPS drivers, says the union has set up a memorial fund for Basinski's family. They have sent requests for donations to every Teamsters local in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Reynoso says Basinski's co-workers were too grief-stricken to talk, but they passed along a few details about his life for him to share.
"He was a huge Green Bay Packer fan, from what I understand. He was very religious, very in touch with his religious community; he was a great father, and he had just become a grandfather, and from my understanding, unfortunately, hadn't even had the opportunity to meet his grandson yet."
Basinski, 50, grew up in the Green Bay, Wis., area, and lived in Spring Lake Park, Minn. He is survived by his parents; two sisters and three brothers; three children, who range in age from 19 to 25; and his new grandchild.
Contributions to the Teamsters memorial fund for the Basinski family may be sent to the Minnesota Teamsters Service Bureau, c/o Keith Basinski Memorial Fund, 2828 University Ave. SE, Suite #100, Minneapolis, MN 55414.
- All Things Considered, 10/04/2012, 4:51 p.m.