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Mourners Share Laughs, Tears As They Say Goodbye to Johnston's Spenser Nelson

Hundreds of mourners filled Johnston Evangelical Free Church on Friday to pay respects to 15-year-old Spenser Nelson.

took one last trip through a tunnel of teammates and classmates on Friday morning.

After the 15-year-old Johnston High School sophomore's funeral service at Johnston Evangelical Free Church, teammates and classmates lined the aisle, creating one last tunnel for Spenser.

Hundreds of friends, family and community members filed into the church's sanctuary and other rooms to celebrate the life of Spenser, who .

The front of the church was adorned with everything Spenser loved, from his  baseball and football jerseys, to his wake board and baseball cards.

"Let us not be afraid to laugh as we remember," said Pastor Jeff South. "Let us now be afraid to cry."

Family, Friends Share Stories of Laughter at Funeral

Mourners did just that as they recalled stories of Spenser.

"We had these stairs with spindles on the railing when Spenser was little," Jonathan Nelson, Spenser's older brother recalled. "He liked to play by the stairs. … One day, he got his head stuck in the spindles. He was there for a while. It took the whole family to get him out."

There was also the story of when Jonathan walked by Spenser sitting on the couch in full snowboarding gear in the middle of summer.

He was playing his snowboarding game on his XBox.

Sister Sara Nelson, who is 13 years older than her brother Spenser, had the opportunity to be his teacher for a portion of elementary school.

"He would say I was like his second mother, only cool," she said.

Like many 15-year-olds, Spenser couldn't wait to get a car, Sara Nelson said.

"I let him drive to the mall one day. … Spenser thought the car was on," she said. "We were rolling down the driveway. He said, 'The steering wheel won't work.' We went over the curb and just missed the mailbox."

Others Helped Through Organ Donation

Part of Spenser will live on through organ donation, Sara said.

"A very lucky person gets to see the world through his beautiful blue, green eyes," she said of news the family received recently. "He was able to give his lungs, bones and tissue.

"I will love you and miss you always, especially your big hugs that almost knocked me over."

Sobs were audible as a slideshow of Spenser through the years played to the music of Brad Paisley's "When I Get Where I'm Going" and The Band Perry's "If I Die Young."

Adventurous, committed, and hard-working were words Johnston athletic director Gary Ross used to describe Spenser.

Ross, who works with Spenser's mother, Tamra, reminded the youths in the audience that life is a long road, full of peaks and valleys.

"If you feel you're in a valley, find your parents, friends, teachers, administrators or God, and they'll get you back on that road."

John Fogerty's "Centerfield" played as the young baseball enthusiast made one last trip through his tunnel of friends.

April Graham February 03, 2012 at 09:36 PM
We will miss you Spenser. We have reminded our teens to stop in the athletic office to see his mom and do a fist bump. What a kind and caring family to put the students pain above theirs and welcome these kids to their home all week. His birthday is tomorrow and my kids will release balloons in his memory.
Anne Carothers-Kay February 03, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I am so happy his family donated his organs. That brought a lot of comfort to my sister-in-law who lost her son at age 15.
Robin Anthony February 22, 2012 at 01:58 AM
My son just commited suicide Saturday he had just turned 15 on Feb.10. I donated everything as well. I had 5 children, this is so hard I really don't know how to move forward. His services are planned for this Friday maybe the healing will begin then. We have been invited to numerous momorals for him. Today is Mardi Gras in New Orleans and I am so miserable the streets were lined with his friends saying NAP Jojo meaning now at peace. He can't rest if his oprgangs are in someone else.
Anne Carothers-Kay February 22, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Oh Robin, I'm so sorry for your loss. I don't know your faith background, but I wonder if you can reframe the question to bring you a little more peace. Would your son have wanted to save a life if he could have when he was alive? If he had donated a kidney while he was living to save someone else's life, I think that would be a very God-favored act of service. I hope you let people lift you up and care for you and your family this week.

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