Saying goodbye: Nearly 700 remember White Pines student as positive, upbeat

Stuffed animals. Swimming towels and sweatshirts. Ski equipment. These mementos of Shelby Hardebeck's life cocooned her casket as some 700 mourners gathered Friday morning to say goodbye to the bubbly 12-year-old.
Alex Doty
Mar 3, 2012


The sixth-grader from White Pines Middle School died Sunday after a brief illness.

Those in attendance at her funeral chose not to speak of her death, but of her life. They described Shelby as an energetic, caring and positive person who made a difference in the lives of all the people with whom she came in contact.

“As adults, we had the peace of mind knowing she was there to help,” said Mike Hardebeck, Shelby’s godfather and uncle.

He said she gave of herself with no expectation of reward or personal gain, and was always willing to help out.

“She just gave selflessly time and time again,” Hardebeck said.

In addition to being a middle school student, Shelby also swam as a member of the USA Swim Association and enjoyed skiing, hunting and fishing with her friends and family.

Shelby’s swim coach, Richard Riopelle, spoke highly of Hardebeck and talked about her leadership as a genuine, hardworking young woman.

“Competitive swimming is a really tough sport, and Shelby met that challenge every day,” Riopelle said, while discussing her final practice of a 3-mile swim. “She did the whole workout without missing a beat, and she was really excited about the meet coming up. She gave 100 percent every day.”

Shelby was equally well-liked in the pool and in the classroom.

Michele Jerovsek, who had been the girl's third-grade teacher, said Shelby excelled academically and personally.

“Shelby was mature, mature beyond her years,” Jerovsek said. “She stood by and was a friend to everyone.”

Following the service, Shelby’s loved ones gave her a round of applause and then made their way outside to the parking lot of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and released dozens of green, blue and white balloons in her honor.

Brigham Thornock, 12, a fellow classmate and swimmer, said he will remember Hardebeck for her caring personality.

“She was really encouraging of our team,” Thornock said.

Ryan Klahorse, 12, another of Shelby’s classmates, said she involved herself in many activities, but always had time for others.

“Over the summer, I’d go over to her house and play soccer with friends in her neighborhood,” he said.

Peter Klahorse, who was at the funeral with his son Ryan, said that Shelby showed others around her the importance of life.

“She just showed that every day is a gift,” he said.


nick skinner

goodbye you will be forever missed.
you were the best.

nick skinner
white pines middle school student


I am very sorry for Shelby's family, and don't like raising uncomfortable questions at a time of such loss, but I feel I must. As a father to 2 young girls, I would like to know if there is any possible connection between Shelby's untimely death and the HPV vaccine. There have been a number of stories in the media lately about various side effects and worse in girls Shelby's age.


You report a brief illness ended this sweet little girl's life but don't mention what it was. I pray that the family will be comforted during this time and that there will be some answers.


When a 12-year-old girl dies from addiction it leaves too many unanswered questions but maybe the family does not want to disclose what the illness was.


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