ANCHORAGE - The Alpina Garage was closed on Monday, but not to observe President's Day. It's a family business, and their only son has just died.
There’s a sign on the door of the Midtown garage explaining that they’re taking a few days to grieve.
They weren't open, but the shop was full of people observing an Albanian tradition where friends and relatives gather to comfort the bereft. Surfaces were stacked with food and bouquets sat on the counters. Women gathered in the front office while the men were in the garage. The grieving included Timi's four sisters, his parents and other relatives.
On Friday, Fitim Kadriu, or "Timi," died of a seizure.
He was only about two weeks shy of his 21st birthday.
His best friend and coworker was his father, Rasim. Rasim's shop walls were covered in photos, ribbons and trophies of Timi's accomplishments.
Timi had plans to open his own studio for Tae Kwon Do. He was studying business in college, and had trained under Master Sung Son Yu for over ten years.
Yu said he was extraordinary. "Whoever he met, everybody liked him. Why? He had an open mind, a big smile." Timi competed across the country. He was also a teacher. Yu said Anchorage lost a good leader.
Those he trained learned more than martial arts from Timi. His friend Woon Choi said, "I learned what man should be, what proper man should be as a man, as a friend, as a person, and as one character."
A small consolation for the family is a letter he left. He wrote it several years ago after he started having seizures. In it, he tells his family not be sad when he's gone.