During Jason’s teenage years, he could always be found building things. It started with skateboard ramps and bike ramps. But I think his most memorable thing that he built was his double seater bike. Jason decided that it would be really cool if he took the front of one bike and the back of the other bike and welded them together. Everyone said that it wouldn’t work, but he was successful. He was so proud of it….he rode it everywhere.
Jason was also known for his many cars. One was a chevette that my dad caught on fire and earned the name Sparky from Jason and the family, he had his volkswagon bus that he completely reconfigured inside, and the one that was most remembered was his turquoise 1956 Ford that he and his dad worked on. Dad finished it and surprised him with it when he returned home from his mission.
After high school, Jason went to BYU-Hawaii with Char, his best friend, for a semester before leaving for his mission. He called me a lot while he was in college. In his journal he wrote,”my older sister April and I are very close and it is very hard for both of us to be so far apart.” He talked to me about so many occasions where he and Char would be hanging out or sitting on a rock watching a sunset and it felt weird. They were best friends. He said that the last few weeks were hard at school. He knew that he would be going on a mission and Char would be moving on with her life. He wrote in his journal….”Unless of course the so called dream of my mom and Char’s mom of us getting married happens which is very unlikely.” I spent hours on the phone with him telling him that the two of them just needed to kiss and he would say, ‘no that just wouldn’t be right.’ Jason and I spent lots of time on the phone together actually about all kinds of things and mom and dad would always be worried what their phone bill was going to be because whenever we called each other, we all used mom and dad’s calling card. Now looking back….every penny was worth it!
In college he also wrote in his journal about the spirit being so strong at BYU-Hawaii. And what power came from hanging out with friends that all had the same beliefs that he had. How he learned to love reading the scriptures, sometimes staying awake until 3:00 am reading only putting down his scriptures because he needed to get up at 6:00 and needed some sleep. He said while at BYU-Hawaii it was fun hanging out with friends that were both crazy and spiritual.
I remember him calling me and he told me what his new favorite pastime was with his friends….Bumper Jacking. They would go in and get McDonald’s trays and then basically put them under their feet, hang on to the bumper of any random car at a stop light and go for a ride skidding around the turns. I said, Jason that is stealing….he said “No it isn’t….we return them when we are done.”
He journaled while in college (Nov. 14, 1994) that he believes that him going to BYU-Hawaii was essential for his spiritual growth and that Mom and Dad knew always what was best for him. He wrote “I think I need to mention how thankful I am of my parents and how wonderful they are. I take it for granted so many times. They always DO know what is best. I’m so thankful for my parents’ example which has helped me to be the person I am today. I talked to my mom tonight for about an hour and a half. It seems like whenever church comes up we are on the phone for a long time. And that is good.”
One other thing that happened a lot while he was in college….he and Char got ice-cream ALL the time at the Seasider Cafe!
Jason came home from BYU-Hawaii in December of 1994 and left for his mission in July 1995. In the meantime he took up racing Jet Ski’s with Jill and Mike. He talked my dad into being his holder for his take-offs and outfitted him in a full wetsuit. He loved every minute of it. Dad’s favorite story of them Jet skiing was when Jason and dad went out for a ride from Vallejo heading to the Carquinez Bridge looking for wakes to jump from the bigger boats. As they approached the bridge Jason spotted two boats in the distance. He motioned to Dad to follow him. They didn’t realize just how big the boats where until they were close to the wake. Approaching the wake, with Dad following close behind Jason, Jason bailed out to the left leaving my dad to go over the wake. Dad found himself launched 20 feet in the air hanging on tight to the jet ski. As they came down, the swell came up and launched dad off the jet ski flailing everywhere. Dad landing in one spot and the jet ski landing in another. It took him many tries to get back on and once on Jason decided that he needed to change jet skis because Jason just couldn’t stand up anymore. Dad switched with him, because that is what dads do. Dad said he never had enough strength in his legs to stand up and had to drag them behind the jet ski the whole way back to Vallejo.
Jason did very well racing jet skis. He was in competition when he received his mission call. Upon learning that he would be entering the Missionary Training Center in July, he realized that he would not be able to compete in the final race. So Jason decided to stay out of the competition two races before the final so that the kid just behind him in points could earn that spot.
The night before Jason left on his mission, Char came over with her guitar. She learned a song that she sang while he packed “The Keeper of the Stars” and Char gave Jason a glow in the dark star that Jason put above his bed while he was on his mission. Char told him that whenever he saw the star he should think of her. Jason also had two little pictures of Char that he had in two plastic hearts that he kept by his bed that Char just found in his keepsake box. Oh how he loved that girl.
Jason served a two year mission in the Texas – Houston Mission. He engrossed himself in serving the Lord and teaching from the scriptures. He said he was glad he didn’t serve a foreign language mission because of instead of having to learn a language; he could just learn the gospel. While preparing to serve his mission, Jason also prepared to enter the Temple. He was so looking forward to going to the Temple that the night before he actually cried in anticipation of receiving his own endowments. Jason had a love for teaching the Gospel through the scriptures. He could pick out any scripture and base a whole lesson or talk off of that scriptures. It was truly a gift. He also loved going to the Temple. He had the opportunity to teach the Temple Prep classes a little later in life and he taught with a great spirit and with great enthusiasm. It is Jason’s wish and dream that his children serve missions and be married in the Temple.
Jason came home from his mission and ended up marrying his childhood sweetheart, Charlene Kortz. Both moms’ dreams did come true. I remember our whole family setting up the scenario for not only their first kiss, but also the big proposal!
They married and lived above the barn and built their family there. Jason was diagnosed just two short years later with a brain tumor.
While raising a small family, Jason worked hard and went back to college to earn his bachelor’s degree so he could better provide for his family. He was always a hard worker, had a great sense of humor, sometimes took it too far, but always made everyone laugh.
Jason loved country music, Randy’s tri tip, hunting and fishing with his kids.
Jason was very social. He loved hanging out with friends and family and he loved to go to lunch. In fact, even in the end, when he was so tired, was not able to communicate well and it was so hard for him to get around he continued to go to the boys’ ballgames, school events, church, Haley’s dance recitals and would even come hang out in our backyard for pogo stick shows. He was never ready to go home.
When mom and dad were taking him for walks in his wheelchair in the evenings this past month, mom would ask…’want to go see Mike & Jill.’ He would instantly lighten up and give a strong thumbs up. Once there, he would point to whoever he wanted to go hang out with.
He was always doing crazy things to make people laugh. Dave and I signed up to do a triathlon with J and Char before he left for Mexico for treatment. In anticipation of doing the triathlon, Jason bought a Zoot Suit. It was a special all in one suit that was tank style on top and bike short style on the bottom with a zipper up the front. J wore it all the time leading up to the event. He wore it while riding his bicycle and also just around the house when people came over. When Jason figured out that he would be in Mexico during the triathlon, Dave decided to wear it in his honor with a swim cap that said, “For my Bro, J”.
Another event that has brought many laughs over the years was the time Lynn and Jason were trying to get Lynn’s boat going. They took the boat to the Napa River and drove it up river to downtown Napa. They didn’t realize the tide was going out and the boat ended up getting high centered on a sandbar. J called Dad and Scott Allen to come help. He said to bring a chainsaw. When Dad and Scott got to downtown Napa to help they found J wearing his swim shorts and a large orange life vest standing on Main street to flag them down. He had swam to shore wearing his bright orange life vest, in waist deep water, and thought he would be funny for all of Napa to see.
A fun memory of all the kids in our family was Jason’s jokes. Jason could often be heard saying to any of the kids “Got any grapes?” He told it over and over and kids always loved hearing it. Find one of the kids and I’m sure they will be happy to share it with you.
Jason loved the Kortz family reunions. He made many laugh there too. And, I know it means a lot to him to have so many of you here today. I’ll have you all know that we have bought a fart machine for you to borrow for your next round of Mafia!
Often times anyone could be heard saying ‘enough already Jason’. In fact we joked that as soon as he passed away he was probably up in heaven walking and talking, and heaven was probably already tired of him talking.
Jason spent countless hours serving others. He spent many Saturdays working with Trent at Vichy School building new benches for the kids. What a lasting tribute of him that our community will enjoy for years to come. He also put countless hours into the Napa Little League program coaching his boy’s baseball teams always encouraging the boys to do their best.
Jason’s motto throughout his illness was “To Endure it Well”. Part of his enduring it well was made possible by the community’s generosity at his fundraiser three years ago. There was such an outpouring of love and support at that event. The money raised allowed Jason to be well cared for to the very end. Jason was loved and it was evident there as well as here.
When Jason gave us his first scare in May I went over to say good-bye to him. I had a few things that I needed to tell him. I whispered them in his ear, through tears. His eyes were closed. At the end I said, ‘Jason, I just need you to know that I am going to miss you so much.” He opened his eyes and said…”Why…where are YOU going?” He must have known he was just having his first string of bad days, but not ready to go anywhere just yet.
The very next week, a lifelong friend, one of Jason’s best friends, was trying to schedule a time to come visit him. Jill and I knelt by his side and told him that Toby wanted to come for a visit. He said that probably Monday thru Friday would be best between 4 and 7 pm. I asked him why not Saturday. He said he might not be here. I gasped for a minute wondering if he was trying to tell us something and was almost speechless and then giving it right back to him I said, “Why….where are YOU going?” He shrugged and said…”maybe to a ballgame.” Phew I thought and we all laughed. He thanked me for our chat that day and said he really enjoyed our special chats. Then he looked at Jill, our middle sister, and said, “Do I need to schedule chat time with you too?” They scheduled it for Tuesday and it included two diet Pepsi’s. He ended up taking what we called a ‘longs winter nap that day’ and it never got rescheduled before he lost his ability to communicate. Jill, the next time you have a diet Pepsi…drink two and chat away to Jason. He’ll hear you.
Part Three (the end) tomorrow.