MANKATO — Wes Schuck lived his life with an unbridled passion and creativity and faced his death with a positive outlook that awed friends.
"It's hard to summarize a guy like that. It doesn't seem like words do justice," said one of Schuck's best friends, Cam Johnson.
Schuck is perhaps best known in Mankato for Two Fish Studios, which he and his wife, Kristi, started in 1997 after they graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College.
Over the years he was involved in the creation of several businesses and projects focused on music, video and film, including the arts magazine Static.
"He was a creative genius and tried everything," said Ryan Sturgis who worked on various projects with him.
Just over three years ago Schuck was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. On Monday afternoon he died at home with his wife and three young daughters around him. He had just turned 40.
Born in Willmar, Schuck went to Gustavus where he met his future wife. At Two Fish Studios he produced CDs, record labels and radio commercials. He also started Moving Records, going on the road and recording live shows with a number of bands. He launched the 100 Band Project, designed to help independent bands sell their music while raising money for social causes.
Schuck and Sturgis started No Alternative Films, where they worked on a number of videos and films, including for the History Channel website. They also co-wrote a film, "Stranger in Paradise," which was released.
"We spent many an early morning editing together and working on music together," Sturgis said.
Dan Dusek, who has a career in TV and film and now lives in Albuquerque, worked on a number of projects with Schuck while he was living in Mankato.
"He always had interesting ideas. We had great discussions about the business and about politics and about spiritual things. He was just an interesting guy to be around. He was always wanting to stretch the boundaries and had some pretty amazing ideas," Dusek said.
After being diagnosed, it was Schuck's renowned optimism that carried him and impressed those he met.
"In the three years he had this, the man had the courage of a lion," Dusek said. "As bad as he felt with the illness, he always had a positive outlook and was a helluva fighter."
Sturgis said that although he had been diagnosed with the deadly stage 4 cancer, Schuck "found the beauty in the experience of being challenged in that way. I know he had fear, but you have to have fear to be brave and he was always brave.
"He tried anything and everything and learned all about it — alternative medicines and diet and he also did his chemotherapy because he was going to try everything to live a good life, which he did right up to his 40th birthday (last month) when he was driving a golf cart and leading a (fundraiser) run."
There will be a visitation at 3 p.m. Monday at the Kato Ballroom with a memorial service at 4 p.m. and a musical celebration of life at 6 p.m.