As the family members of Corey Holmgren cope with the loss of their father, husband, son and brother, they are taking solace in the fact that he helped so many people in his relatively short life — more than they could have ever imagined.
Holmgren, 35, died suddenly at the West Valley Family Fitness Center on Saturday, Jan. 19. Authorities say Holmgren was swimming laps when he slipped under the water and didn’t come back up. Lifeguards attempted to revive him, but could not save him.
The cause of Holmgren’s death is still under investigation. His funeral was held on Saturday, Jan. 26, and his older brother, Justin Holmgren, said the service really helped everyone visualize the enormous impact Corey had on those who came to know him, whether through his military service, or in his career as a marriage and family therapist.
“It was stunning. I couldn’t believe how many people were there,” Justin said. “There wasn’t enough room in the gym. It was like Stake Conference on steroids.”
Corey Holmgren, a native of Tremonton and 2002 graduate of Bear River High, was a Captain with the Utah National Guard and a member of the 19th Special Forces Group at Camp Williams. He started his military service while going through the ROTC program while he was studying at Utah State University, which is also where he met his future wife, Mindi.
The day after his death, the Utah National Guard released a statement.
“We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Cpt. Holmgren. He was a phenomenal chaplain and Soldier and his loss will be felt deeply within our ranks,” said Maj. Gen. Jefferson S. Burton. “Our prayers are with his wife and children.”
Perhaps his biggest impact came through his work as a therapist, and Justin said Corey touched more lives through that work than even those who knew him best could have imagined.
“We knew he was out there helping people, but were kind of blown away by the extent of it, the impact he had on hundreds, maybe thousands of people,” Justin said.
Justin and other members of Corey’s family were able to meet many of those people, and Justin said they repeatedly commented on how Corey had helped them through some of the darkest moments of their lives.
“They said how he had lifted them out of those dark times in a loving, charitable and non-judgmental way,” Justin said. “No matter what they had done, he felt they had a chance to get better and become better people.”
A veteran himself, Justin said it was “pretty neat” to see a strong military presence at the funeral as well.
“When I spoke (at the funeral), to look out and see all these people, including all the military uniforms — that was just a sight,” he said.
According to his obituary, Corey is survived by his wife, Mindi, and his four kids, Nathan, Nora, Lexie and Jack (entering the world in March), his parents, Lyle and Kathy Holmgren, his in-laws, Victor and Janice Anderson and their son, Parker, siblings, Justin (Natalie), Dallen (Ashley), Kierstin (Jacob), Hilari (Phillip) and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who love him dearly.
Justin set up a GoFundMe page for Corey’s family, and as of Monday, Jan. 28, the account had raised more than $41,000.
“We just care about (Mindi) and their kids, and want to make sure they’re taken care of,” he said. “We knew people would be generous, but we didn’t expect it to go so high so fast.”
While Corey’s departure leaves a void that will be difficult to fill, he will live on as the legacy and example he leaves behind continues to inspire those who were touched by his presence.
“I just hope people know what a thoughtful and compassionate person he was,” Justin said. “A great brother, son, dad, husband and friend. We’re going to miss him, and try to live our lives a little more like him at same time.”