Honoring Tommy Ketterhagen and the Symbolism of Memorials

Ketterhagen Memorials

When 19-year-old Tommy Ketterhagen disappeared from a Georgetown road in January of 2017, he inspired rage, hope, and despair. Cyclists from around the area gathered Sunday to honor him. They rode the stretch of Patriot Way that he was killed on, stopping at his crash site to pay their respects.


Many of the carvings found on gravestones have specific meanings. A swan represents peace, a dove of salvation, the egg symbolises new life (especially when shown with a lamb) and an urn symbolises cremation. These are just some of the symbols that were used by 17th and 18th century masons.

A skull symbolizes death and mortality. It can be carved in full, three quarter or partial profile and with or without the lower jaw. The skull is often paired with crossed bones or the sexton’s tool, both of which signify mortality.

A handshake is a common symbol of married couples or other close, unified relationships, such as family and friends. This is often accompanied by a rose which signifies love or affection. Willow, sometimes with a bow, symbolises mourning or grief; folklore held that it dispelled evil and facilitated contact with the spiritual world. An urn symbolises cremation and is frequently accompanied by shrouds laying over it, and with the motto In Hoc Signo Crucificio (In this sign, ye shall conquer). A staff, a crucifix or a cross indicates Christian belief and faith.


Ketterhagen Memorials has been in business for over a century and is located in Burlington, Wisconsin and Elkhorn, Wisconsin. It offers a wide range of stone and bronze memorials, monuments, headstones, grave markers, granite benches, and mausoleums. The company serves families in the State of Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest. Its services include engraving, design, and installation of memorials. Its headquarters is located in Burlington, Wisconsin.

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The day after Tommy’s death, cycling community members channeled their grief and anger into action. They brought the Ketterhagens meals, sent words of support, and donated more than $50,000 to a GoFundMe campaign that became the Tommy Ketterhagen Memorial Foundation. The Foundation now supports bicycle safety awareness and initiatives in Georgetown and around Central Texas.

The Ketterhagens learned a few specific details about what happened to their son only after Aaron Davison’s sentence was completed. They were told that when the truck crashed, Tommy’s head hit where the registration sticker would have been and that his body impacted substantial damage to the front of the vehicle.

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Located in Burlington, Wisconsin and Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Ketterhagen Memorials is a family-owned company that offers stone and bronze memorials, monuments, headstones, grave markers, granite benches, and mausoleums. They are also known for their high-quality engraving work. Their team is dedicated to creating unique and personalized designs for their customers. They also offer custom headstones, and are able to etch a variety of texts, images, and symbols on them.

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