'We had a perfect life, but life is not perfect': Kvalvogs on deaths of their two sons

Ray and Kathie Kvalvog just wanted to again sleep near their sons. Eighteen-year-old Zach and 14-year-old Connor were not sleeping in their Moorhead home as part of what Kathie called a "perfect life." Instead, the Moorhead parents slept at Boulg...

The sons, Zach and Connor

Ray and Kathie Kvalvog just wanted to again sleep near their sons. 

Eighteen-year-old Zach and 14-year-old Connor were not sleeping in their Moorhead home as part of what Kathie called a "perfect life."

Instead, the Moorhead parents slept at Boulger Funeral Home near their sons the night following the boys’ funeral . It was the night before Zach and Connor were buried at Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery in Pelican Rapids.

"We just had to touch our boys," Kathie said, fighting tears. "It was comforting for us."

"Even though we knew their souls were gone, it was still our boys," Ray said. "That made what was horrible at least somewhat palatable. They're still our boys. They're right there. Every night we'd check on them. They looked the same. Just asleep."


Zach and Connor died in a rollover crash  on Interstate 94 near Fergus Falls on the morning of June 23 on their way to a basketball camp in Wisconsin. They were the only children Ray and Kathie had.

"We had a perfect life, but life is not perfect," Kathie said. "I guess I've never doubted God during this situation. I didn't because the moment I knew that they were gone, I knew they were in heaven. Someone posted that if Zach Kvalvog didn't get into heaven, then there's no hope for the rest of us because they were truly great, great boys. I know that God must've wanted them for some reason. I don't know the reason. We'll never know the reason."

In the parking lot of Park Christian High School in Moorhead, Ray had just re-packed the truck his two sons and classmates Mark Schwandt and Jimmy Morton had stuffed with their bags, so the boys could have more room. He said goodbye about 8:15 a.m. June 23. Those were the last words he said to his sons on Earth. His belief that they will not be the last words he says to them is what keeps him going.

"The only thing that sustains me is that I know the boys are in heaven," Ray said. "They're in a better place. That I believe. Why this happened? I don't know. You just don't know. You can question and 

go over things in your mind, but that's the only thing that sustains me. That I do know that they're there and one day I'll see them again. Otherwise, I guess I'd have no reason for living."

Obituaries: Zachary and Connor Kvalvog

Ray was about to get on the interstate to head west to work when he got a call from Park Christian basketball coach Josh Lee saying he had to come right away. He called his wife at work and told her "Don't freak out. The boys have been in an accident."

"I did freak out," Kathie said. "I had had a bad feeling before about it, before Zachary left. And he said, 'Mom, I've never been in an accident yet.'"


Ray and Kathie were in separate cars trying to get to their sons.

"We were desperate to see our sons," Kathie said.

Neither made it. About 15 to 20 minutes after Ray called Kathie to say their boys were in an accident, he was calling her to tell them they were gone.

Ben Woodside hugs the parents of Zach and Connor Kvalvog, Kathie and Ray. Nick Wagner / The Forum

"The first thing I said was, 'How are Mark and Jimmy?'" Kathie said. "I already knew there's nothing you can do for my children, but I wanted to make sure that they were OK. We're happy that they made it and that they will recover."


Ray said everything was for his sons, despite the only thing they asked for was shoes for basketball. The house Kathie and Ray built no longer has the noises of those shoes running throughout it. The basketball court sits silent.

 "It's all changed because I think that main thing, that motivation and desire you had when you had your kids, who were enveloping you, is just not there. You're just wondering why am I doing any of this. We built this home and it was all for the kids. Why do we need a court for or any of this stuff?"


The only thing left are the stories. Like the one about Zach buying lunch at school every day for a student who couldn't afford it or Connor helping out a girl in gym class who couldn't do a drill, while everyone laughed at her. The two boys never told their parents these stories. Ray and Kathie heard them from other parents.

 "Our kids were dream kids," Kathie said. "They were better people than we are. They definitely would have benefited the world where so many people aren't contributing ... or bringing it down."

Ray and Kathie said they were overwhelmed by people reaching out to them, from families to other teams the boys competed against.

"It's all different," Ray said. "


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