At the end of last summer, Linnerooth returned home to Minnesota so he could see his children daily. He did travel back to California, though, for a joyous occasion — the birth of his son, David.
He spoke often with his buddy, McNabb, and seemed optimistic, considering new careers outside psychology But he kept his distance, too, not telling former university colleagues he was back.
Linnerooth was busy with family during the holidays: He sent his mother a text thanking her for the kids’ Christmas gifts, traveled west to see his baby and sent photos of the infant in a green monster outfit to his sister, Mary. On Jan. 1, he spent a happy day with his son, Jack, and was planning another visit with David.
The next day, though, McNabb says, a fight with his wife, alcohol and a loaded gun proved a tragic combination.
He left a note with instructions, but no explanation of why he’d taken his life.
“For the record, Pete Linnerooth did not want to die,” McNabb says. “He just wanted the pain to end. Big difference.”
For all those who loved and admired him, for all those who saw him at his best and worst, these past weeks have been filled with sorrow, regret and inescapable irony.
“He didn’t like to burden other people,” his widow says. “He liked to take care of other people. I don’t know anyone who knew how to comfort people like he did. ... He was very kind. He was sincere. He was generous. He was patient. He was forgiving. It’s such a tragedy. He had the skill, he genuinely cared and he could have helped so many people. And now he’s gone.”
His family and friends gathered on a bitter cold January day in Minnesota to bid farewell.