R.I.P. Patrick Wessel, Jumbling Towers Champion and Charismatic St. Louis Advocate, 1985-2010
People who know someone who becomes a celebrity often say that they just "knew" that person was destined for stardom. Patrick Wessel wasn't a star - yet -- but he was on his way. And his friends, and even acquaintances, agree: Whatever "it" is, he had it in spades.
Patrick John Wessel, 1985-2010.
Wessel died on October 24. He was 25 years old. The cause of his death was complications from cancer.
He was born in Arcadia Valley, Missouri, on July 16, 1985. He was the youngest of eight children born to Thomas and Susan Wessel, and from an early age, he was the family entertainer. Wessel's older sister, Molly Killeen, said he was always a character.
"I remember sitting at the breakfast table when he was maybe five years old, his brother Tommy was six, and our brother Mike was eight," she says. "Mike was eating his breakfast very seriously, Tommy would sit there and eat seven bowls of cereal in a row, and Patrick, it depended on his mood. If he was in a bad mood, he would insult everyone and be very sassy, if he was in a good mood - which was most of the time - he would barely eat a thing. He would just sit there and entertain us all and tell stories, and tell us about the dreams he had the night before and just laugh.
"My mom would have to push him out the door to go to school. That was him his whole life. He was always the entertainer, always brightening people's lives."
Wessel attended Saint Louis University from 2003 to 2007 and earned a degree in entrepreneurship. At SLU, he was a student leader who helped establish SLU TV, the student-run station that broadcasts on campus. He also worked as a cartoonist for The University News and was a resident adviser in student housing.
Michael Galvin was one of Wessel's partners in crime at SLU. The pair met randomly on campus during Galvin's freshman year.
"I was walking down the middle of campus actually, he was sitting outside, and we both had really long hair and basically women's pants on," Galvin recalls. "So we were like, 'Hey, we're the same person.' He was like, 'We should be in a band, we should hang out all the time,' and I was like, 'Totally, totally.'"
Wessel adopted St. Louis as his home during his time at SLU. He led the charge against the demolition of a historic building to make way for a new SLU parking lot. Although the building was eventually demolished and a parking lot erected in its place, Wessel remained a tireless advocate and a trendsetter. He could often be seen wearing a furry aviator hat and carrying a retro Samsonite suitcase instead of a backpack, chatting up anyone who looked like they didn't fit in on SLU's campus. He rode a scooter before it was chic, he wore vintage glasses before vintage was ubiquitous, and he encouraged his peers to take public transit and experience life outside the "SLU bubble," as it is commonly (and derisively) termed by students.
"He was constantly texting me that he was on the bus somewhere," Killeen says. "He explored all over St. Louis. He made a rule at one point that he wouldn't step out of St. Louis City; he never wanted to go to the county. He actually did it for a year and a half or two years, but we have a brother who lives in Webster [Groves], so he had to give in eventually."
After graduating college, Wessel moved to New York to pursue an acting/modeling career while working as a manny for Killeen's son, Jude.
"He moved to New York to pursue, like, every dream he ever thought he would have," Galvin says. "He was a rapper, he was an actor, he wanted to be a producer. He actually completely signed up to join the Navy and took the test. And then at the last minute he was like, 'I don't want to be in the Navy.'
"At the time you're like, 'Why does he want to do every single thing he wanted to do all at the same time?'" he continues. "Now, looking back on it, you're like, 'Thank God he at least he went for everything, he actually didn't have a lot of regrets.' The boy did not lack ambition, that's for sure. He hated sitting and watching TV. He couldn't think of a bigger waste of time."