Jaden Christopher Reece lit up our lives for 6,180 days. He blazed a trail of laughter, joy, friendship and love for sixteen years, 10 months and 27 days, for his family and friends; even those he just met, because he never met a stranger.
Jaden was born on July 22, 2003, to his doting parents, BreAnne and Chris Reece, in Kingfisher, OK. He was a bundle of joy from the beginning, delighting the hearts of his grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Jaden set an example as the oldest of the three Reece boys, and spoke constantly of how proud he was of his little brothers, Bryent and Lane, as well as his brothers in Kentucky, Jarmar Wills and DaQuante Jackson. He always let his mom know he loved and appreciated her, and strived to make his Dad proud.
He died in the early morning of June 27, 2020, a result of a tragic accident.
Jaden lived in Luther as a youngster, then moved with his family to Texas and Kentucky before coming back home where he recently finished the tenth grade at Luther High School. He touched lives everywhere he went, and made such an impact in his short life that his legacy encourages all to live life to the fullest, to be kind, and to smile.
His smile was part of his charm, but so was his way with words, such as this hand-written Valentine he gave to a friend.
To My Valentine
“I know this is short but I hope you still smile reading it because you have a great smile. Whenever you smile, the sun hides in fear that you will outshine it! Your style is unmatched and your personality is beautiful and wholesome. You are sweet and caring. Every time I see you, I smile. You have amazing hair even when you don’t try. It’s as beautiful as the ocean and flows like the rivers that lead to it. And you are so so smart, you’re gonna be something big!“
His loss is felt so deeply, especially by his Meme, “You had my heart from the moment I saw your tiny blue face. I was afraid in that moment and I am afraid now. I don’t know how to go on without you. You were so smart and incredibly funny. Such a handsome and kind hearted young man. I loved the way you lived life to the fullest and always looked at the bright side. It makes me happy to know that you are in the arms of our ever loving God. But I am oh so sad to know that I will never hold you in mine again.”
Jaden loved to challenge his grandfather, Leroy, at playing chess. It was a game he learned quickly and then proclaimed to be the world champion. He kept a running score of who won. “There will be a silence and a void in our lives. God needed a hero to lookout for those he loved,” said his grandmother, Cheri.
He learned to be the “world champion of chess” at school with Coach Zack Smith who pledged his support to the Reece family in this loss.
“Jaden was a bright, intelligent young man. He was very special to me and I know we developed a great relationship over the 27 weeks we spent together. I taught him Biology and other ‘book learning,’ but I taught him how to play chess and he exploded in his knowledge and strategy. He even beat me in the game I taught him how to play. That is a small testimony of how quick he could pick things up. I was blessed to be with him through the mostly good times and a few hard times. I’m deeply saddened by his early passing and wish his family my condolences and support. He will truly be missed by myself and many, many people.”
Jaden had a strong work ethic, combined with a natural ability to make customers feel welcome which is why he was such a great fit at DJ’s BBQ in Luther.
“Jaden has been a part of our DJ’s Crew for quite a while now and has gained so many friends through our customers. He was always a joy to be around. He loved his customers and they loved him! Jaden has been a friend to us in so many ways. We even had hopes he might want to be the boss some day … although he already thought he was. Some of you have heard him brag about his brothers, he loved his family and loved to talk about them. We can’t even begin to tell you how much this amazing young man will be missed!” said Billy and Michelle Jeffries.
As an athlete, Jaden had the qualities that a coach looks for both on and off the basketball court, according to Luther Basketball Coach Matt Jones.
“There are many attributes that would easily describe Jaden. Kind, fun loving, funny, and hard working are just a few of many ways to show the kind of young man he was. On the basketball court he was fearless, never backing down from any challenge presented to him, a great teammate who was truly happy to see others excel. Off the floor Jaden was even more impactful. His infectious personality made it easy for others to feel comfortable around him and before you’d know it, he’d have everyone laughing. His positivity was always so easy to see. Whether it was uplifting a friend who was having a rough day or giving you a fist pump walking down the halls between classes.
“However, for me the thing that I will remember the most was his smile and how he made others around him smile. Our time with Jaden was tragically way too short, but the memories made and shared will never be forgotten,” said Coach Matt Jones.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Although Jaden was part of a large and loving family, he really was “family,” to many more including Jessica and Kevin Schrimsher who treated him as one of their own.
Jessica remembers him as the cute little boy during a fun time of her life. “We chose you to be in our wedding because you were our ‘nephew.’ We loved you. We never stopped. As you grew older I couldn’t believe that you were the same kid that would come to our house almost every weekend. You’d watch your Dad and Uncle Kevin and Uncle Brian work on trucks, cars or whatever it was. You’ll be missed so much Jaden.”
Walking the halls of Luther High School won’t quite be the same without Jaden. His teachers, like Rhonda Hlavaty remembers his smile and his stories; students like Jaden made her career choice a joy. His many friends gathered for an impromptu prayer service at the school that brought almost a hundred students to grieve together, on the night he died.
His principal, Shawn Meek, also mourns the loss of an awesome young man. “Jaden always had a smile on his face at school. He would go out of his way to make others smile as well. His sense of humor and love for people will be dearly missed.”
For the Maley family, friendship with the Reece family has been a blessing.“Jaden had mastered the ability to be both respectful and also a smart ass. He was obedient, mischievous and ornery at the same time. He would bounce off the walls, but when his dad told him to sit still, he could do it for hours. Jaden could adapt to any situation and had the ability to be friends with anyone. Until we meet again Big Booty Judy!” from Mark and Amy Maley.
Sheila Harp was part of the village of moms who collectively look after the friends of their kids, and their friends.
Jaden was preceded in death by one great-great-great grandmother, Gertie Whitney, one great-great grandfather, Delmer Gibson, three great-grandfathers, Ed Nielsen, Paul Piper and Clifford Reece, and one great-grandmother Beatrice Reece.
He is survived by his parents, Chris and BreAnne Reece; two brothers, Bryent Reece and Lane Reece, Luther; Jarmar Wills and DaQuante Jackson, Lexington, Kentucky; grandparents, Leroy and Cheri Reece, Luther; Carrie and James Madkins, Luther; great-grandparents, Bill and Cheryl Williams, Luther, and Darlene and David Lepak, New Mexico; grandfather, Butch Nielsen, Luther; great-great grandmother Viola Gibson, as well as a host of family and friends.
Visitation will be held on Friday, July 3, 2020, from 4 – 8 pm, at Boydston-Bailey Funeral Home, 105 S Main, Luther, OK. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, July 4, 2020, at 11:30 am at Broken Horn Ranch, 19680 N Luther Rd, Luther, OK 73054. Burial to follow at Luther Cemetery.