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World War II veteran who made friends with preschool neighbor dies

FARMINGTON, Minn. — A World War II veteran who became friends with the little boy who lived next door has died at the age of 91.

Erling Kindem and Emmett Rychner became an internet sensation after a TV station in Minnesota aired a series of stories on their unique friendship.

KARE 11 reported they bonded over the tomatoes in Erling’s garden and enjoyed “racing lawn mowers” — Erling on his John Deere and Emmett on his toy tractor.

Eventually, Emmett’s family moved away and Erling moved to a retirement community, but Emmett’s mom made sure they still met up for play dates and celebrations, KARE 11 reported.

Erling died Saturday afternoon at a senior care facility in Farmington, according to KARE 11.