TROUT CREEK, Mont. — Losing a child is the worst kind of pain, so they say.
And if you looked into Kevin Sherry’s face yesterday at registration for the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional, you would have no doubt.
Sherry’s son, Josh, was killed in a car accident nine months ago.
Josh, 23, lived in Montana and died only a couple of hours away from the site of the tournament. Kevin was planning to come from his home in Ojai, Calif., to practice on Noxon Reservoir with his son.
“He wasn’t that much into fishing,” said Kevin, “but my dad and I took him fishing a couple of years ago and he said he really enjoyed it and wanted to do it again.”
Kevin did not get to practice on Noxon with Josh. And Kevin was in so much pain after Josh died that he decided he wouldn’t even compete in the divisional. When he traveled to pick up Josh’s belongings right after the accident, Kevin said he never wanted to see Montana again.
He made a friend, though, who had an impact on him. Mike Dominick, a member of the Montana B.A.S.S. Nation who had qualified for the upcoming divisional, happens to also be the captain of detectives at the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department — where Kevin and his wife, Deana, had gone to collect Josh’s things.
“It was my birthday,” Sherry said with a half-laugh at the indignation of such heartbreak falling on what’s supposed to be a happy day. “Dominick said we should go fishing.”
Dominick and Sherry went out on Noxon, and over the last few months, the pair kept in touch. Eventually, Sherry decided to compete in the divisional. Dominick’s suggestion that Josh would have wanted his father to carry on struck a chord.
“I think he would have wanted me to go ahead and fish it,” said Sherry, barely able to get the words out.
Sherry came early to the tournament to add his son’s memory to his arm.
“I found out after he died that his favorite bird was an owl,” said Sherry, “and he had one tattooed on his chest. I went to the same tattoo artist he used and had the owl design Josh had on his chest tattooed on my arm.”
He got the tattoo last Tuesday. Like him, the tattoo is still healing.
The same design also made its way to the California B.A.S.S. Nation team’s jerseys. The owl, printed on the back of the jerseys with all the team’s sponsors, is dedicated to Josh’s memory.
“Everyone in my club has been so supportive,” said Sherry. “They’ve been so great to me. And everyone here at the divisional, too.”
Of course, he’d trade it all to have his son back.
“He was definitely one of a kind.”