Jason Strauser and Jesse Doseck will forever be etched in the memories of their classmates as the class of 2012 winds down its last few days of school.
Now there will be a visual memory as well for everyone to reflect on.
Nearly 70 people turned out Saturday as the parents of the two Wapakoneta students dedicated a memorial in front of the high school on Saturday. Both boys died to cancer before reaching graduation.
Jesse died from a brain tumor on May 21, 2009, at the age of 15. Jason died two years later on May 30, 2011, at the age of 17 from leukemia.
The graduating class of 2012 has formed a Relay for Life team called Cancer Ain’t Classy in memory of the two students and will participate in the walk June 22 and 23 at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.
Friends and relatives reflected on the memories of the two children as they gathered to dedicate a decorative rock with two trees planted on either side, one each to commemorate their memories.
“There are several things I can’t do without thinking of Jason,” the Rev. Sean Morris, pastor at Salem United Methodist Church, said. “I can’t go to a hockey game. I can’t eat a roast beef sandwich. I can’t drink a Mountain Dew, and I can’t eat chicken and noodles.
While the event brought tears to some people’s eyes, people talked and laughed about both boys as they recalled memories such as Morris’ which made the two boys stand out.
“I just woke up one morning and decided we had to do something,” said Judy Strauser, Jason’s mother. “We wanted to give everyone a visual memory. A lot of people have went by and said they thought it was really cool.”
Jason’s father, Rick, and Judy Doseck said Jason enjoyed going to Columbus to see the Blue Jackets play. He also enjoyed toilet papering, camping and just hanging out with friends.
Strauser was a junior at Wapakoneta High School when he died. He was a member of Salem United Methodist Church and was employed at Arby’s in Wapakoneta.
Jesse, the son of Amy and Tony Tester and Christopher Doseck, was a freshman at Wapakoneta when he died from complications from a bone marrow transplant after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2005. He enjoyed skateboarding, video games, toilet papering and hanging out with friends.
He was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church and had been involved in many youth groups.
“I know their spirits are here with us today,” Amy Tester said. “It is nice to have something here at the school to view. It will be here forever.”
Both parents said their children would have been happy with the memorial.
“Jesse was a go-with-the-flow kind of kid,” Tester said. “He would have thought this was pretty cool.”