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The day before he went to the hospital, Clark Osojnicki felt better than he had in days. His fever had gone down, and the body aches and headache that had bothered him since March 18 had faded. A day later, he walked from his couch to the bathroom and back, and he was exhausted.

"He said, 'I feel like I just ran there,' " said his wife, Kris Osojnicki.

Even as Osojnicki was hospitalized and put on a ventilator, it didn't seem possible that he could die of COVID-19, said Kris. The medical staff said they saw signs of improvement, and she felt certain he would return to their Stillwater home soon.

Instead, Osojnicki, a longtime employee of a Minneapolis law firm and a trainer of champion "agility" dogs, died April 6. He was 56.

Despite having Type 2 diabetes, Osojnicki was healthy, ate well, and got regular exercise while training his Bernese mountain dogs and border collies, said Kris.

"I do think that people feel like if you're young and healthy it's not going to happen to you, and the worst thing is that you might give it to your 95-year-old grandmother," she said.

Born in Roseville, Osojnicki graduated from Totino-Grace High School, attended the University of Minnesota and then transferred to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. After graduation, he took a job as an accounts payable clerk at the law firm Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett. The firm earlier this year merged with another to become Lathrop GPM, and at the time of his death Osojnicki was the firm's senior financial systems analyst.

He and Kris met as teenagers in 1981 at a bowling alley and married in 1987. They chose not to have children, and their home life revolved around competitions.

In the "agility" community, Osojnicki was a teacher, friend and helpful aid to other dog owners. He and Kris were part owners of the Animal Inn in Lake Elmo for many years. He won some 25 championships with his dogs, and with his Bernese mountain dog, Roxy, took third place at the American Kennel Club Agility Nationals in 2007.

At 6-feet-4, Osojnicki was known as a gentle giant who loved good humor, sports and sports statistics and solving problems at the office.

"Clark was a fabulous person in all regards," wrote Minneapolis attorney and Osojnicki's co-worker Bruce Mooty on an online memorial to Osojnicki.

He is survived by his wife; brother, Mark Osojnicki of Vadnais Heights; and sisters Ann Zender of Saint-Paul de Vence, France; and Toni Osojnicki of Stillwater.

@_mattmckinney • 612-673-7329