‘He was the kind of guy you couldn’t help but smile around’

Brock was five years old when his cousin asked him to be the ring bearer in her wedding. His mother took him to the tux shop on Wenatchee Avenue to get fitted. Nearby there was a homeless man, a wheelchair-bound amputee with long gray hair and beard. As they walked by, Brock smiled and waved to him.

“I will never forget how the man’s eyes lit up,” said Janna Viebrock, Brock’s mother. The homeless man smiled and waved back.

“That moment left a profound impression on me,” Viebrock said, “to see my child not look at this homeless person as scary or abnormal.”

The next week they returned to pick up the tuxedo and Brock looked up and down the street. Then, staring straight into his mother’s eyes, he said, “Where is my friend?”

Sixteen years later, Brock’s fraternity brothers are left with the same question.

WSU junior Brock Lindberg was found dead in his bed early in the morning of Oct. 24 at the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house. A fraternity brother called the police after finding him and immediately texted Brock’s big, Sam Melesse, who quickly drove to the house.

“We were all in the formal (room) kind of just consoling each other, praying for the best,” Melesse said.

After police told the brothers of Brock’s passing, Melesse and the others went back to his house to get away from the commotion.

“It was a really hard place to be,” he said.

Police have said they see no reason to believe Brock’s death was suicide or foul play and they are awaiting the results of a toxicology report to determine the cause of death.

Another brother, Ruben Avalos, awoke to the news the next morning.

“My jaw dropped,” he said. “It didn’t really hit me for two days that my friend was not going to be around anymore. (It was) so unexpected, so shocking, (I was) in such disbelief … That’s the first friend I’ve had that has died and I just didn’t know how to interpret it for a while.”

Two weeks later, the brothers struggle to return to complete normalcy. Lindberg had been a member of the fraternity for two years and had built a place as a leader and a friend among his brothers. He double-majored in management information systems and finance and was the scholarship chair for the fraternity with a 3.9 GPA.

“He would never skip class, even if he was hungover or sick,” Avalos said. “He would get … up and he would go and that kind of motivation is crazy.”

Melesse said though Brock pushed his brothers to succeed, he often led by example through his motivation in his own schoolwork.

“He is the most compassionate, hardworking person that I’ve come across in college,” Avalos said. “If you were messing up somehow with schoolwork or drinking too much … he would be the first to tell you, ‘Hey man, get your shit together, you’ve got other stuff to take care of.’ He cared so much.”

And Brock followed his own example, in school as well as at home. Melesse said he kept his room organized and clean, and wouldn’t let anyone in unless they took their shoes off.

“In a fraternity house that’s like almost impossible,” Melesse said. “We never keep our stuff that clean, but he was the kind of guy that would.”

Viebrock recalled how Brock, her only child, was easy to raise.

“He woke up smiling every morning,” she said, “never threw fits and always had an excitement for life and learning.”

Though he cared deeply about school, his passion also extended to all aspects of the music world, from listening to producing to dancing.

“He was the kind of guy you couldn’t help but smile around,” Melesse said.

He recalled one time when Brock used his fun-loving spirit to get people to join him in dancing.

“It was like mid-January,” Melesse said. “We were just sitting and watching, I think it was football … and he comes out in a Teletubby costume he had for Halloween and starts dancing. He’d actually get you to dance ‘cause you couldn’t help it, he just brought up the energy, and that was Brock.”

With the help of donations from loved ones and the community, Pi Kappa Phi raised more than $16,000 for Brock’s funeral through a GoFundMe page.

“This happening has brought so many people together. We were together every night after that, at least a group of five of us just hanging out like supporting each other,” he said. “That’s only brought me closer and showed me why I joined the fraternity.”

Viebrock came to show support for the brothers several days after he died, and said she received a lot of support herself.

“Through comments on social media and people who approached me during these days since Oct. 24, I realize Brock impacted hundreds of lives with his positive attitude and quick smile,” she said. “He had the capability to forgive and give others another chance.”

Though the transition has been hard on Viebrock, she has found solace in what she sees as Brock’s entering a new immortal journey. She reflected on how her son has made her a better person.

“He gave me 21 years …the best years of my life,” Viebrock said. “I will think of him daily and smile.”