Joshua is remembered at Christmastime in Maple Lake

Christmas is a time for families to gather and this holiday season makes the absence of one young Maple Lake man even more difficult to accept.

Joshua Guimond, a junior at St. John’s, disappeared without a trace on November 9 after leaving a party with friends on the St. John’s campus.     As the days after Joshua’s disappearance stretched into weeks, searches were conducted, posters were distributed and funds were raised to continue the effort to find the only son of Brian Guimond and Lisa Cheney.

Joshua’s parents, who are divorced, both live in Maple Lake and have become nearly inseparable as they coordinate search efforts and struggle to keep media attention focused on their son’s disappearance.

“There is somebody, somewhere who knows something,” Brian said. “And if it’s kept out in front of them, maybe somebody will break.”

But there is no chance that Joshua will be forgotten in Maple Lake.  Joshua was a 2000 graduate at Maple Lake High School and a top student. He served as president of his class, was the Student Council representative to the Maple Lake School Board, was voted Most Likely to Succeed by his classmates, and won the Security State Bank Scholarship awarded annually to Maple Lake’s top senior student.

And those are just the highlights from a young man’s school career that bloomed almost from the moment he set foot in Maple Lake schools.

“We moved here from Redwood Falls in the fall of 1986 when Josh was four years old,” Lisa said. “We just didn’t want to live in the city.”

So they found a small town where their son would find nothing but success.  “Josh liked it here,” Lisa said. “But I remember that Josh always seemed older than his years. In kindergarten, he preferred talking to the teacher rather than interact with the other kids.”

“He was an only child,” Brian said. “He was used to being around other adults.”  But it didn’t take long for Joshua to make good friends.

“Josh and Barty Kilgo hung out because the Kilgo’s lived right across the road,” Brian said.   “They were always getting into some kind trouble,” Lisa laughed. “There was one time I was on my way to the grocery store and there was Josh, up in the air hanging on to the Kilgo’s garage door.”

Other Maple Lake friends that have played a big part in the effort to find Joshua are Jason Neu, Corey Paulson, Ryan Yager, Dana Michalicek, and Joshua’s long-time girlfriend, Katie Benson.

“I think he liked Katie ever since they were in grade school,” Lisa said.   The team of Guimond and Benson became a force at Maple Lake High School. They often coordinated volunteer events together, particularly within the Student Council organization as Katie served for several years as president and Joshua as vice president.

And Joshua had a multitude of interests, talents and abilities. He was a part of the Gifted and Talented program at Maple Lake Elementary. In band, he played the baritone, trombone, tuba and uphonium and was also a member of the community Jazz band.

Brian said Joshua also tried a little wrestling in elementary school, but stuck with football and baseball in high school.  “He really liked baseball,” Brian said. “But he had to have shoulder surgery after jumping over a fence and somehow dislocating his shoulder. He was bummed because he couldn’t play football or baseball. That pretty much ended his sports career.”

But that setback didn’t dampen Joshua’s enthusiasm for sports. Instead of contributing on the field, he did the play-by-play announcing in the press box for baseball games. He was also able to continue hunting and fishing, displaying an aptitude for both.

“He was probably about 14 years old when he got his first deer” Brian said. “And he dropped it with his first shot.”

Joshua somehow found time to work at Target in Buffalo during high school and most recently, with his dad at Dundee Nursery.  “He worked on my crew all last summer,” Brian said. “He liked driving those big machines.”

There was also Joshua’s involvement in Mock Trial, an interest he continued into his college career at St. John’s which allowed him to hone skills needed for his future career.

“He would always debate when he was little,” Brian said. “He was always a good speaker.  “I like watching him in Mock Trial. There was one time, when he was the lawyer, he just nailed them. When he sat down, he looked over at me and I gave him a thumbs-up. He nailed them good.”

Through Mock Trial and as a political science major, Joshua was aiming for law school.

“He talked about going to Georgetown,” Lisa said. “But his buddies say he was set on Yale. And there was also talk about law school at the University of Minnesota. He was working on getting a Truman Scholarship and that would have decided where he was going to go to school.” Truman Scholarships are awarded to college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committeed to careers in government or public service.

But law school was just another step in a direction Joshua had set for himself long ago.  “He’s been interested in being a politician, I swear to God, since second grade,” Lisa laughed. “They did some project in school on JFK and since then, he was interested in politics.”

Lisa recalled that when Joshua was a junior in high school, he went to the city council to get a curfew ordinance changed so kids could be out later because the curfew interfered with an event he was planning. And he got the ordinance changed.

“It seemed that if he wanted to do do something, he’d get it done somehow,” Brian said. “If there was something going on, he always seemed to be the one in charge.”

And now Joshua’s parents are displaying that same perseverance as they search for their son.

Lisa is employed by ViaBio Medical in Plymouth and Brian works for Dundee Nursery. Both said their employers have been understanding about their need to put all their time and energy into the search for Joshua.

“At one point, I said I’d better get back to work,” Brian said. “And they said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Take the time you need.’”

Days for Brian and Lisa are filled with constant phone calls to and from law enforcement authorities, media organizations, government agencies and friends and family. To keep track of all the information that comes their way or is requested from them, both keep thick notebooks within reach.

“Every day, you’re talking to all kinds of people,” Brian said. “It’s unbelievable. And without writing it down, you wouldn’t know who you talked to or when.”  And there is also the emotional strain of dealing with every parent’s worst nightmare.

“Friends and family have helped,” Brian said. “A couple of my buddies came up yesterday, just for the day.  “We’ve been doing a lot of praying and hoping.”

“We just take it one day at a time,” Lisa said. “We have to. We want to find Josh.”