Travis Habhab always tried his hardest to beat Chad Graaf to the golf course.
He usually succeeded.
So when Habhab wasn't at Lakeside by 6 a.m. on Monday, Graaf knew something was wrong.
Habhab died at his home yesterday morning, a sudden passing that left the Fort Dodge Parks and Recreation Department family both shocked and saddened. He was 32 years old.
Habhab, a graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High, Iowa Central Community College and Buena Vista University, had been an employee at Lakeside since 2002. He most recently served as the clubhouse manager under Graaf.
''We're just devastated,'' said Graaf, the superintendent of golf. ''Travis was like a little brother to me. This is really, really hard. He was a great person with a heart of gold.
''Travis' passion was golf and Lakeside. He truly loved that place. I can't even begin to think of what it will be like trying to replace him. He'd do anything for anyone. There aren't enough people like Travis Habhab in this world today.''
Habhab joined Graaf on the Lakeside course maintenance crew, and after 10 years of working through the Fort Dodge Parks and Rec. Department, Habhab moved into the clubhouse with Graaf to manage in 2012.
''He did this because he loved working with people,'' Graaf said. ''He knew everyone out there and everyone knew him. The relationships - that's what got him to the course every day.
''Sometimes, you don't realize how important people are in your life until you lose them. This is such a huge blow to myself, our family, and the Fort Dodge Parks and Recreation Department as a whole.''
Habhab had celebrated his 32nd birthday earlier this month. Graaf and Habhab developed a friendship after working together at Lakeside for over a decade, during which time Habhab had obtained degrees from BVU (business) and Iowa Central (turf management).
''Travis was truly one of a kind. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, Tim and Bette, and the rest of his family.''