CORVALLIS, Ore. — It was a day of mourning as Jesse Trader’s parents prepared for their son’s funeral on Friday, but more than anything, they say they want to honor and celebrate his accomplishments.
Nineteen-year-old Jesse Trader of Albany was killed earlier this week while working on the Big Windy Fire in Southern Oregon. His family and close friends had a private viewing on Friday, and despite their mourning, they say they want to celebrate the memories they had with Trader.
On Friday afternoon, Gigi Trader dressed her son at the Demoss-Durdan Funeral Home in Corvallis to get him ready for the private viewing.
“I brought him into this world and I dressed him home from the hospital,” Gigi Trader said. “And I wanted to be the last person to dress him. It’s the last thing I could really do for him.”
The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office says Trader was killed Tuesday morning when his water truck hit an embankment and rolled. Trader’s parents say despite the tragedy, they want to honor and celebrate their son’s life.
“We celebrate it because of the accomplishments he had made over his 19 years of life, and what he did, and how happy he was,” said Jesse’s father Ted Trader. “And everything that he did, he put 110% effort into.”
Trader was working for his uncle as a wildland firefighter. His uncle used to be a cheerleader.
“He told the whole crew about how Uncle Daniel was probably going to bring pom poms up there and cheer them on while they fought the fire,” Gigi Trader said. “Let’s just put it this way. He brought a little sparkle to some place where there was no sparkle. The crew chief said it’s a very depressing, hard job. Nobody’s having fun. And Jesse made it a little more fun.”
Through the tears, Trader’s family says their Christian faith, as well as coming together to share memories of Jesse, is helping them cope.
Gigi Trader even received a phone call from Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.
“He told me my son was a hero, and that on Saturday, all flags would be at half-mast in his honor,” Gigi Trader said. “And that I should be very proud of the young man that he was.”
Governor Kitzhaber ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff Saturday from sunrise to sunset in honor of Trader.
“We are humbled by his commitment to public service, and we are saddened by the tragic circumstances that took him far too soon,” Governor Kitzhaber said. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, and I urge all Oregonians to take a moment to remember Jesse, his dedication to public safety, and his sacrifice.”
West Albany High School is preparing for a full fireman’s salute Saturday morning, a public ceremony honoring Trader. The ceremony will be at the football stadium at 10 am on Aug. 10. Trader’s family is encouraging everyone who attends to wear Boston Red Sox gear, since Jesse was such a huge fan. If not Red Sox gear, the Traders say folks can wear other baseball gear, or red, white, and blue clothing.