Services will be held Tuesday for the president of Winona State University's student senate, who died last week of a sudden illness that has not yet been identified.
Jared Stene, 22, of Woodbury, died Thursday night at a Twin Cities hospital. He had become ill Thanksgiving week in Winona and suffered rapid liver and organ failure.
His sister, Caitlin, a marketing major at Winona State, said her brother took an early interest in politics. As a third-grader, he decided that the toys at his Maplewood day-care center were inadequate and launched a campaign demanding new ones, she said. When he delivered the petition, the day care bought new toys.
He graduated from Tartan High School in Oakdale in 2004.
At Winona, Stene, a junior, was majoring in political science and public administration with a minor in mass communications. He had been student senate president since July 1.
During his time as president, Stene led campus efforts for flood relief and worked to improve relationships among students, faculty and the administration.
One area that Stene was passionate about was the price of higher education, especially textbook costs. When he took an environmental biology class with his sister, he didn't just ask her to share a textbook, he also went to the Legislature to plead for lower prices, she said.
The family does not know exactly what caused his death, Caitlin said. Doctors could not perform a liver biopsy to aid in a diagnosis because he was too weak, she said. There will be an autopsy, she said.
"Once I do find out, I will become the biggest advocate on prevention of this," she said. "It's what Jared would do."
In addition to his sister, he is survived by his parents, Bruce and Char Stene, and his grandparents. Visitation will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. today at Wulff Funeral Home, 2195 Woodlane Dr., Woodbury. Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 6355 10th St. N., Oakdale.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Courtney Blanchard • 612-673-4921