Sheila Wandersee remembers the melodies that would drift across her Rosemount street during the summer when Andrew Wilfahrt played the piano in his family's house. Classmates described the 1997 Rosemount High School graduate as kind, outgoing and talented.
The marching band member known for his cheery personality enlisted in the Army in 2009 and became a military police officer, and last year he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Spc. Wilfahrt, 31, died in Kandahar province on Sunday from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his patrol with an improvised explosive device, the Department of Defense said.
Word of his death spread quickly Monday around his hometown and in the cul-de-sac where his parents, Jeff and Lori, live.
Wandersee said Wilfahrt was intelligent and adventurous. He had traveled around Europe and Central America.
"He was a very nice kid," said her husband, Dale Wandersee.
Rosemount veterinarian Kurt Hansen said his son, Simon, was a close friend of Wilfahrt's from grade school on. They shared interests in music, computers and pondering world affairs.
"When they were together, then they would talk all night," he said. "He was just like one of ours. It's difficult to talk about."
Wilfahrt was bubbly and outgoing, Hansen said, even stepping up to speak before the City Council to support the Hansen family in a disagreement over eminent domain.
"He was really exceptional," Hansen said. "It's so sad that it had to go this way."
Simon Walter-Hansen said, "He was very light-hearted. He really didn't have to work to bring smiles and laughter to people's faces."
After high school, Wilfahrt lived in Minneapolis for a while and also took some college classes. He would host parties for friends, with paint and canvas, inviting them over for an evening of creativity, Walter-Hansen said. "He will be missed."
Wilfahrt's father, Jeff, said family members were at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday, grieving and awaiting his body's return to the United States. He said the family did not want to comment to the media.
According to others who knew him, Wilfahrt's interest in music extended to high school, where he was a member of the choir and band.
"He was a good student," said Principal John Wollersheim.
Classmates said Wilfahrt played the clarinet in the marching band.
"There were not many people that enjoyed wearing the marching band uniforms, but Andy put his on with a smile and always did his best with each performance," said Kelsey Christenson, a classmate. "He was very intelligent and intellectual. He had many interests and always seemed to excel at whatever he was involved in."
Wilfahrt, who was assigned to the 552nd Police Company, enlisted in the Army in January 2009. He joined the 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in July 2009.
His company deployed to Afghanistan in July 2010, assigned to the 504th Military Police Battalion.
Wilfahrt is the second Rosemount service member to die in the war in Afghanistan. Army Ranger Cpl. Benjamin Kopp, a 2006 Rosemount High graduate, died July 18, 2009, after a gun battle with Taliban fighters.
Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste said the City Council will observe a moment of silence in honor of Wilfahrt at its meeting Tuesday.
"Our sympathies go to his family and friends," Droste said.
Wilfahrt is one of 34 U.S. and allied service members killed in February in Afghanistan. There were 31 deaths in January.
Katie Humphrey • 952-882-9056 Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.