During a tumultuous childhood in western Minnesota, Troy Quenemoen immersed himself in the world of comic books, where obstacles are always overcome and individual acts of heroism can improve the world.
As an adult, Quenemoen went on to beat the odds he encountered in real life. When his oncologist gave him three to five years to live, he lived for 11. When the Minneapolis man coached the Roosevelt High School girls softball team, they scored their first victory over rival South High in 18 years.
And near the very end, when Quenemoen got the news that he might die from cancer before the new Justice League and Thor movies were released, he wouldn't rest until he'd seen them.
"Those superheroes meant a lot to him growing up. And it just transcended into his adulthood as well," said his wife, Diane, who attended special screenings of both movies with him last fall. Quenemoen died on Jan. 22. He was 52.
"It's not that that's what made life worth it, you know — seeing a movie," Diane said. "But he wanted to know the next story, the next movie scenario and come alive with it, like when he was a kid. It meant that much to him to see those characters evolve."
Quenemoen was raised surrounded by farms and rural life, but he gravitated to theater in high school and college. He grew up largely not knowing his biological father, but eventually came to forge a positive relationship with him. That relationship caused Quenemoen to follow in his old man's footsteps and become a residential electrician.
One day, Quenemoen got a phone call that changed his life. His high school sweetheart, Diane Ardoff, called to say that she was going to visit home after spending the past seven years in Manhattan, and wanted to see how was he doing. By 1994, they were married. By 1996, their first child, Eli, was born.
Eli's impending birth had created another chance for personal evolution: Quenemoen's job as an electrician didn't provide the health insurance that his pregnant wife needed. So he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 292 to access Twin Cities jobs with health coverage, and ended up becoming a strong union supporter.
His family kept growing, with the births of Emma in 1998 and Ben in 2000. He cultivated voracious interests in music and movies, science fiction stories and fantasy baseball, and became known for his skills in gardening, cooking and raising urban chickens. He served seven years as the president of the Minnehaha Falls Athletic Club.
"He felt like he was successful in life because of the family that he had and the work he did," Diane said. "Not just the electrical work, but in the community, the coaching. He felt fulfilled."
Yet broken ribs were dogging him at work. His doctors eventually determined that a blood cancer called multiple myeloma was causing his bone problems. He was 41, with three young children, when his doctors predicted he had three to five years to live. It was 2006.
A bone-marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota Medical Center the following year allowed Quenemoen to add more chapters to his story. He retired from electrical work because of a cancer-related disability, but took up coaching with renewed vigor, first at Lake Nokomis Community School's Keewaydin campus and later at Roosevelt.
Quenemoen led the struggling Roosevelt girls softball team to a winning season and the emotional victory over South. Asked about the 2015 turnaround in an interview for the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger, he explained, "The girls just started having confidence in themselves."
Quenemoen is survived by his wife and children, and his mother, father and sisters. Services are 11 a.m. Saturday at Crosstown Covenant Church in Minneapolis, with visitation starting two hours earlier.