LA CROSSE, WISCONSIN (WXOW)-- Paul and A.J. Petras both graduated from Aquinas High School; Paul in 1974 and A.J in 2011. So it was a fitting place to hold a memorial for the father and son.
Mark Schneider and Paul met at Aquinas and remained friends for more than four decades.
"I took 30 years to convince him to give up on the corvette and get a Porsche," Mark said during a speech at the service, where he remembered favorite memories of Paul. "Well, he went out and got one of the finest fastest ones you ever saw."
Kathy Reinhart first met the Petras family when her son, Riley, and A.J. started kindergarten together.
"The boys became friends instantly, and they were together their whole childhood growing up," Kathy said.
Riley is away at school, but sent a video message to play at the Aquinas memorial service for A.J. and Paul.
"[A.J.] encouraged his mom and I to take skiing lessons so we could ski with the boys," Kathy said. "We weren't very good but it was fun."
A.J.'s mom, Sherri and sister, Allison, attended the memorial service…
"Sherri still waits for them to come home," Kathy said, when asked how the family is holding up.
Kathy says, for her, it's little things that remind her A.J.
"When it snowed, I said to my daughter, 'Oh, A.J.'" Kathy said, "and she's like, I know mom.'"
And for Mark, 40 years of friendship with Paul, left him with a lifetime of memories.
"Every time I hear tires squealing or smell rubber burning, I'll think of Paul and A.J."