Best friends: 89-year-old veteran, toddler reunite after move


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A couple weeks after they parted ways, an 89-year-old World War II veteran and his 3-year-old former neighbor are together again – if only for a play date, KARE 11 reports.

Erling Kindem and his toddler neighbor, Emmett Rychner, first made national headlines in July when KARE 11’s Boyd Huppert did a story on the duo's unique bond, which began in Kindem's tomato garden.

The story at the time was heading toward a bittersweet ending, as Rychner's family was preparing to move to Rice County. Huffington Post, CNN, the New York Daily News ABC’s Good Morning America were among the media outlets who picked up the story of the friends’ farewell.

NBC News featured the story on the network's Facebook page, which led to an outpouring of emotional comments.

The two reunited this week when Kindem drove 16 miles from his Farmington residence to visit the boy at his new home in Dundas, Huppert says in his follow-up report on KARE.

Kindem, naturally, brought with him a tomato for his young friend, who is a few days away from turning 4 years old.

"It's like no time has gone by," says Rychner's mother, Anika. "They didn't miss a beat."

Kindem, too, will soon be making a move himself soon, to be with his ailing wife in a senior apartment in Burnsville, KARE says. But the distance won't matter, says Rychner's dad, Bryan, and they'll drive to see their son's friend if he can't make the trip to them.

"They've got a great friendship," Bryan Rychner tells KARE. "I don't want to see either of them lose that."

"It was good while it lasted," Erling said as he left the Rychners' home, voice cracking. "It isn't over."

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