Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: Layton Fossum January 16, 2015

Portrait #3: Layton Fossum, the ultimate optimist

Layton Fossum posed for me at the August 2010 Cancer Stroll.

Layton Fossum posed for me at the August 2010 Cancer Stroll.

When I met Layton Fossum 4 ½ years ago at the American Cancer Society Straight River Stroll, I looked into the face of an optimist.

The rural Northfield man, despite a difficult struggle with neck and head cancer (the words he used), was upbeat and positive, living life to the fullest.

It was obvious, from looking at him, that he’d been through a lot, that cancer had taken a physical toll. He had no facial nerves on his right side. He’d undergone reconstructive surgery on his drooping face. He’d lost the hearing in his reshaped right ear. Gold weighted his right eyelid.

But Layton didn’t dwell on any of this.

He lived. And he lived a good life. A joyful life.

Layton died on Monday at age 52, losing his long battle with cancer. He will be buried on Saturday.

But his positivity lives on. In condolences posted on the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home website, friend after friend writes of an upbeat man of faith with a beautiful smile, a great sense of humor, a generous and enthusiastic spirit, the type of person we all wish we could be, but likely aren’t.

My favorite comment comes from the folks at Full Service Battery & Salvage in Farmington. (Layton collected and sold scrap metal besides working numerous other jobs.) They wrote:

Layton was our favorite customer. His positive energy always blasted through our doors like hope! You couldn’t be down with Layton around. We will miss him!

That we should all blast through life with hope, like Layton.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling