Jesse Memorial Speech
Itís hard for me to
get up here and speak of Jesse in past tense, when it was just last week
we talked for an hour on the phone. Our
paths crossed in 1990 as freshman at Embry Riddle. From that day forward our paths never diverged.
As all of us know, Jesse was a wild guy.
You can only imagine how much hell the two us caused while at our
tenure and Embry-Riddle. Much
of which I canít divulge because that leaves only me as the single
culprit now. Like everything
for Jesse, much of life just fell into his lap.
It amazed me how a guy could do every step wrong sometimes but
somehow he always ended on top. It many cases better off than he was before.
That was Jesse. While many of us were thinking about life, Jesse was living
Jesse can be summed
up with 3 words. Fun Loving
Guy. That was Jesse. Being around Jesse was never a dull moment.
He managed to always take a serene peaceful moment and add a little
of his chaos too it. Everybody
here knows what Iím talking about. You could be laying quietly on a raft in a pool and Jesse
would come jumping in cannon ball style.
I can still here him laughing and screaming even as I read these
words. Iím gonna miss those
Jesse was an
emotional guy too. For all of
us who knew him well, Jesse wore his emotions on his sleeve. His greeting alone would tell you that. He always gave you a big bear hug every time he saw you.
Iím gonna miss those hugs.
Jesse had a big heart
too. He never hesitated to
help anyone in need. Even
when it slapped him in the face he never stopped helping other people.
Not only was he a giving friend but he was a great father too.
And letís face it. The
reason Jesse was so good with kids was because he was still a kid himself.
Thatís Jesse a Fun loving guy.
One thing that amazed
me about Jesse was how many friends he had. What was more amazing was how good he was at maintaining
contact with everyone. He
always made the effort to call and keep in touch.
It didnít matter what time of night it was either. I canít tell you how many times Jesse called Heather and I
at 1 or 2 Oíclock in the morning. Jesse
had friends everywhere. You
can be in some dive bar in the middle of North Dakota and Jesse would run
into someone he knew. Jesse
just had a personality that everyone liked.
People enjoyed being around him.
He even found his way into my parents heart and has always been
referred by them as one of their sons.
To me he was a brother.
Jesse was my best
friend and we did a lot together. It
was in 1996 when I took him home for the holidays. We had a ski trip planned for new years day.
So I took him to hunter mountain in new York.
We were up all night celebrating New Years eve in Philadelphia.
We began our road trip to Hunter Mountain in New York about 5 a.m..
We expected the ride to take about 3 to 3.5 hours.
I drove for two hours straight on about 1.5 hours sleep while Jesse
slept in the passenger seat. At
about the two hour mark I woke Jesse up thinking we still had at least an
hour to go and told him to drive. He
got behind the wheel while it was my turn to catch up on some sleep.
Jesse drove about 8 miles and got off at the next exit.
We were there. He got
such a kick out of me getting only 4 minutes of rest while he slept for 2
hours. That was O.K. because
2 minutes later he called pulled over by a cop.
But in true Jesse fashion he talked his way out of it. The Sheriffs jacket he had showing thru the back window
So, we rented our
skis and hit the slopes. Jesse
on skis was a sight. Especially
since the guy never seen snow before.
The first thing I taught him what to do was snow plow (wedging the
skis together to control speed). Next,
as a backup I told him if he ever got going to fast to just fall down
(although I didnít explain how to fallÖ.this is important later).
Naturally, I took Jesse on the intermediate slopes to learn how to
ski. I went down the first
segment and then coached Jesse from afar.
As he began coming down the mountain, I started shouting snow
plowÖsnow plowÖsnow plow. His
skis were still pointing straight down the mountain.
As he picked up speed and got traveling about 20 mph he remember to
fall. Unfortunately, an
oversight on my part, I forget to tell him to always fall to the side.
Instead Jesse fell straight to his back. Now, he was lying on his back with knees bent but his skiís
were still planted firmly flat on the ground.
In fact, his back was lying on the rear part of the skis.
He was picking up more speed and now he couldnít steer very well
either. To one side of the
mountain was a jagged rock face wall and the other side was clear.
Jesse aiming for me was of course worried about my well being even
though I knew how to ski and could easily get out of the way.
I was purposely not moving out of the way because I had intended to
stop him. So of course, Jesse
steers toward the rock wall and hits the only natural snow ramp in the
area. He goes flying into the air and does an agony of defeat
through a bush. Limbs fly
everywhere like a tornado just ripped by.
It was so funny. His
one ski stayed in the bush while the rest of him slid down the mountain.
Everybody on the mountain was laughing so hard.
People were literally keeling over with laughter including myself.
As he stood up, a little shaken but completely fine, we noticed
there was a large tear in the rear of the ski pants I let him borrow.
Some how I got screwed again.
Oh well, it was worth it. I
still laugh about this story today. It
was like it was yesterday.
It was during this
holiday vacation that Jesse introduced me to my wife Heather.
For that I owe Jesse more than words can say.
It just goes to show you how many lives Jesse has touched
throughout his life.
Jesse Rhodes was my
best friend. Heather & I
will forever love and miss him. But
most of all we thank him for allowing us to be a part of his life.
May his soul rest in peace.
I love you Bro.