Kalamazoo woman gets new fishing pole from friends after thief steals old one

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Joleen Ryder believes good people still exist in the world. Tuesday night she was in tears because someone stole a fishing pole that was created in honor of her late husband Josh. Friday morning, she was smiling.

“Actually got the phone call this morning from Dan,” said Ryder about the conversation she had with her friend Dan Schuring. “He’s like ‘Are you sitting down?’ And I was like ‘No, shut up. You did not say that.’ He’s going to help you get new poles.”

Ryder couldn’t believe it. She was in shock and thankful she said. When she met up with Schuring and Jamie Peckstein, who's supplying the parts for the new pole, she made sure to say so.

“I think I was speechless this morning,” said Ryder during an interview, after giving the guys a hug. “Pretty much, in shock because I didn’t think that anybody would do that. I was hoping to get the other pole back. But getting this is spectacular.”

She said Tuesday night, after she came home from a fishing trip with a friend, a man stole four poles from the back of her pick-up truck. Ryder said she saw a white male in his 20s with the poles in his hand. Neighbors saw him too. She called the police and told them what happened and alerted loved ones too. She told them she's sad her pole was taken but it was Josh’s that hurt the most.

“Josh was an awesome person,” said Schuring who met Josh disc golfing over a year ago. “Once you got to know him, he's just a great guy.”

Josh died unexpectedly in June of blood clot and stroke. Schuring said when he passed it was a “rough hit.” Out of love for him, he built Ryder and Josh's friend Ty Cole a custom-made fishing pole that had ‘In Loving Memory’ inscribed on it. It was white, light blue and orange — Josh’s favorite colors — and took him seven days to build it. Now it’s gone.

“It was just totally upsetting,” said Schuring. “All the time and energy I put into the rod, knowing it was going to be for something very special. Then they call me up and say ‘somebody just took off with the rod.’ It was devastating.”

Peckstein heard about what happened to it and said it was upsetting. Schuring used parts from his shop Patriots Custom Fishing Rods to make Josh’s pole. Now, they’re both working together again to give Ryder a new one, free of charge.

“I don’t like seeing anybody have this happen to them. It's just wrong,” said Peckstein. “As I was learning more about the back story on the rod, I just couldn’t see her having to spend the money to have this rod rebuilt.”

D&R Sports Center donated a new reel to Ryder to go along with the pole. Schuring said he should get the parts by early next week and it’ll be another few days before the new pole is completed.

Ryder is grateful.

“I work my butt off for stuff I want and that’s a lot of money,” said Ryder about the new pole costing between $300-$400. “Getting it for free, I don’t know how to thank them enough.”

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