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'A friend we'll never forget'
Family, community share grief, love at funeral for Jordan Aubrey
Friends and classmates of Jordan Aubrey mourn as his casket, adorned with signatures and messages, is wheeled out after his funeral at Connections Church Saturday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

The final strains of “She Talks to Angels” faded away and Joey Fennell, executive pastor for Connections Church, approached the microphone. Addressing the devastated Aubrey family and about 800 distraught friends gathered in the sanctuary of Connections, Fennell began the almost impossible task of bringing some comfort to a still stunned and grieving community at Saturday’s funeral for Jordan Aubrey.

In the wake of the tragic accidental death of the 17-year-old Portal High School senior, Fennell and several other speakers related the wonderful memories Jordan created in his short life and the positive impact he had on so many he encountered.

“We are here to celebrate the life of Jordan Aubrey,” Fennell said. “It’s moments like these that make us thankful we don’t get used to them; it’s a place where we don’t want to be. We are thankful that God is in our midst. We understand that prayers can change our life, but also life can change our prayers.”

Jordan died Monday at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah following head injuries he received in an incident in Statesboro the night of Aug. 8.

At the funeral, students from Portal and Statesboro high schools related how Jordan always made them laugh.

“Jordan always wanted to share his smile,” said Caitlyn Girardeau, a senior at Portal High. “He had a goofy laugh and a great sense of humor. He made long hair and bucket hats a staple at Portal. We should all be grateful we had a chance to know Jordan.”

Jordan’s classmate Becky Channel called Jordan “a man of many hats” and saw him as a “deep thinker.” She also said “he was the only 17-year-old voluntary owner of a flip phone.”

“Jordan is a friend we’ll never forget,” she said.

Jordan attended Statesboro High his freshman year, before transferring to Portal. Childhood friend and Statesboro senior Alex Wagner spoke about how Jordan introduced him to new friends in Portal.

“Even in his passing, Jordan was the bridge between the Portal and SHS families,” Wagner said.

Jordan was the extra-point kicker his freshman year at Statesboro High under head football coach Steve Pennington. Pennington said he was a little unsure when Jordan’s dad, Josh Aubrey, asked him to speak at the funeral. He told the audience he didn’t know Jordan that well, but he discovered from talking with family members, who all knew him as “Coach P” even though most had never met him, that he had a serious impact on Jordan’s life.

“Never underestimate the power of influence you can have on someone’s life, no matter how brief your contact with them,” Pennington said. “He was a skinny fella. Not much meat on those bones. And not everyone wants to be a kicker because everyone sees the ball go thru the uprights or go wide. That takes courage to put yourself out there.

“Perhaps in some form or fashion others saw that if that little joker can do it, maybe so can I. Perhaps indirectly he gave courage to others.”

Speaking for the family in a video, Josh Aubrey talked about his son as photos and video clips played in the background. He also thanked the community for all its prayers and support in helping his family cope with the tragedy.

“I came here in 1991 to work at Northland expecting to stay a year or two before moving to a large city,” Aubrey said in the video. “We never left and the outpouring of love from this community in the past week is why we never left.”

Connections Church Senior Pastor Brandon Williams pointed to the power of God and the community in helping the Aubrey family in the days, months and years to come.

“I can’t begin to fathom the hurt in your hearts,” Williams said to the Aubrey family. “Life can bring things we can’t handle alone. We need to turn to someone greater than us. We can draw from a power beyond our comprehension, but not beyond our grasp … God will help make a way for you.

“This (sanctuary) is full of people who love you. They will be there for you. God will be there for you. You are not alone.”

In his touching video to his son, Josh Aubrey related one of the last Tweets Jordan sent out:

“Everything can change so fast. So enjoy the moment while you’re in it because when it’s over, it’s over.”

Jim Healy may be reached at (912) 489-9402.


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