Dennis Anderson
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Kacie Moosbrugger was surprised and pleased to see her brother’s photograph on this page last Sunday, showing him at age 13 blowing a duck call at “Woodie Camp,” managed by the Minnesota Waterfowl Association (MWA).

Sourced from Star Tribune archives, the image helped illustrate a column I wrote about the demise of MWA, which was founded in 1967 in Albert Lea.

Surprised because Michael Moosbrugger died in 2010 at age 26 — 13 years after the image was captured by a Star Tribune photographer. And pleased, Kacie said, because “It seemed like Michael was popping up to say hello to all of us. We miss him every day.”

Michael Moosbrugger died of suicide, his sister said, following an addiction problem that began after he injured a knee playing high school basketball.

“The good thing was the photo showed him when he was young, before his problems, when he was absolutely on top of his game,” said Kacie, 38. “He was an excellent athlete. But what he loved most was waterfowl hunting with our dad [Bill, of Sunfish Lake] and our black Labrador, Lacey.

“Lacey was a family dog. But Michael definitely was her best friend.”

Three years older than her brother, Kacie recalls taking hunter education classes with him. She also remembers Michael returning from Woodie Camp excited about the fun he had there and the waterfowling skills he had learned.

(Woodie Camp’s fate is unknown. MWA chairman John Schroers said it’s possible the camp will continue under different management.)

“Everything in Michael’s bedroom was about ducks,” Kacie said. “Ducks and geese and our dog. And being in a marsh. That’s what he cared about most.”

Michael Moosbrugger was born Oct. 3, 1983, to Bill and Brenda Moosbrugger and died March 21, 2010. He attended St. Thomas Academy in junior high school before transferring to Henry Sibley High School. He played basketball and baseball and was an avid golfer and tennis player, his sister said.

He was 16 when he injured his knee initially, and later hurt it again.

“There is a lot stigma surrounding suicide,” Kacie said. “It is something our family has been through, and we believe should be talked about.”

Some of Michael Moosbrugger’s ashes were spread at his favorite duck hunting spot near the town of Herman, in west-central Minnesota, on land originally owned by his grandfather and fellow duck hunter, Charles Moosbrugger.

“Michael hunted ducks with our dad pretty much from the day he started walking,” Kacie said.

Dennis Anderson danderson@startribune.com