Aaron Thomas Insley
Aaron Thomas Insley, age 36, son of Carol and Thomas Insley of Lake Elmo, passed away at his community residence Granite House, in Stillwater Minnesota on February 26, 2023. Aaron succumbed to a severe brain injury resulting from a 2007 auto accident. In recent weeks he had been placed on Hospice Care with supportive measures and was comfortable, surrounded by caregivers and family.
Aaron was born on March 24, 1986 in Stillwater, grew up in Lake Elmo and attended area schools before high school at Mounds Park Academy in Maplewood. His eclectic interests and talents were computers and technology, track and field, and ceramics, for which he won a MN Scholastic Art award. He was a gregarious, adventurous, loving person with a great sense of humor. Aaron’s college years at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN were shared with his brother Richard and some great friends. He majored in Geography and was convinced that geographers were the most important people in society. Before Google Earth was a household app, Aaron was already doing work in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology. His plans after graduation had been graduate school and a year in Australia with his roommate, a fellow geographer. In August 2007, the last summer before his injury, Aaron reached the summit of Granite Peak, the 12,799’ highpoint of Montana with his dad. He’d taken on mountaineering later in his young life than his brother, who had reached the summit eight years earlier. It was a proud moment for the entire family and foresaw a new lifelong passion for Tom to share with them.
During his senior year in college, after 21 years as an active, independent person, Aaron suddenly became dependent on others for his care. An auto accident on November 25, 2007 that also took the life of his older brother Richard, caused a severe brain injury. After six weeks in a coma and a year of rehabilitation efforts, he was still minimally conscious and nonverbal, coming home to be cared for by his parents and part-time caregivers.
Aaron was the impetus for the founding of Granite House, a nonprofit organization (www.granitehousemn.org), that constructed a new home for him and others. The Granite House family of founders, board and caregivers are committed to seeing it prosper and to continue to care for others who have been through what the Insleys experienced. Tom and Carol express thanks to everyone who, over the years since Aaron’s injury, have supported them through this journey, and to those who became donors and volunteers when the nonprofit began. It is their desire to encourage others to continue this legacy in Aaron’s name with donations. The wonderful staff at Granite House did an excellent job in handling his needs for four years, caring for him as if he were part of their own family. Aaron’s parents are grateful to the staff for their sincere kindness towards him. While at Granite House, Aaron enjoyed music therapy, sitting out on the porch, massage therapy, being read to, and long showers.
Aaron is survived by his parents, Thomas Irving Insley and Carol Tegge Insley, and aunts Laura Higgs (Robert) and Suzy Tegge (Joseph Irvin). He is preceded in death by his brother, Richard, his uncle Richard, and his grandparents, Harry and Winifred Tegge and Thomas and Maralee Insley. Tributes in lieu of flowers may be made to Granite House, or to a scholarship in his name, The Aaron Insley Geography Award at Gustavus Adolphus College. A private interment with family will take place in the summer.
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