Whether he was absorbed in intense racing competitions among fellow dog handlers or guiding families through significant home improvements, Josh Beissel's kindness and concern for others was always evident.
Beissel, a home remodeling salesman who traveled with his dogs across the country and competed for 20 years in relay and agility tournaments, died last Wednesday after suffering an injury at his home in Inver Grove Heights five days earlier. He was 52.
Beissel was on the Animal Inn team, whose members compete with their dogs in the timed relay race events of flyball as well as in agility.
Jeff Beissel said his brother and others in the club often came back with several national championships and were once featured on ESPN.
The club's dogs also have shown off their athleticism during halftime for Timberwolves, Lynx and Gophers basketball teams. "That's what they did for fun," Jeff Beissel added.
"There are teams from all over the country who are sending their condolences," he said, noting that his brother defied the frosty atmosphere among rivals at competitions and "was always talking to them and always lent a hand with equipment.
"They may have hated the team, but they liked Josh."
One of those rivals was Dan Rode, of Buffalo, Minn. Rode recalled that even though "the dog world can be very competitive," Josh Beissel would always "smile, be happy and was pleasant to be around."
Rode said that when he acquired a new border collie, Beissel commented on how nice she looked. "Lots of people don't do that, especially someone from another team," he said.
Animal Inn teammate Robin Marion considers Beissel the "friendliest competitor I've known in this sport," even if it meant helping an opponent with equipment or handling a dog.
"No one ever questioned his integrity," said Marion, who first competed against Beissel and then joined his team about 10 years ago. "Josh was always willing to do whatever it took promote the sport through fair play."
Marion said that Beissel's wife, Kim, will take over his dogs and continue competing. Marion said the two met because of the dogs 20 years ago, eventually marrying two years ago.
Jeff and Josh Beissel were partners in running the family's 62-year-old business, Beissel Window and Siding and AcCent Kitchen and Bath, in West St. Paul. Jeff started in the second-generation business in 1980, and his brother came on two years later.
"The customers have been calling in," Jeff Beissel said. "They feel like they've lost a family member, too."
Between the two brothers, Josh was the salesman, but Jeff liked to think of him more as a consultant.
"He educated people," Jeff Beissel said. "He was known for his terrific follow-up with the customer. He made them feel like they were the only customer that he was dealing with. ... He became almost a friend of the family."
Josh Beissel graduated from St. Thomas Academy in 1978 and the University of St. Thomas in 1982.
Along with his brother and wife, Beissel is survived by stepchildren Madelyn and Kenny Koehnen; and sister Kathryn Ruzicka. Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday at Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Av., St. Paul, and on Thursday one hour before the 10 a.m. memorial service at Church of the Assumption, 51 W. 7th St., St. Paul.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482