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Jana's talk - Life Sketch of Jake Tyler Whetten
Jake Tyler Whetten was born January 3, 1983 in Honolulu , Hawaii as the youngest of 5 children. Being the only girl and knowing that this would be the last baby, I wanted it to be a little sister for me. I remember being so upset when I found out that my mom had a baby boy. It turned out all right. Jakey was my baby, and I carried him around everywhere I went.
As a young child, Jake had quite a belly. We all called him “Fatso” until mom made us stop because he was developing a complex about it. One day he asked her, “mom, when am I ever going to be skinny?” As we all know, his dream came true.
Not only did Jake have a big belly, many of you may remember Jake had an unusually large head as a child. We used to tease that he looked like an alien. One day, we were driving home from town and we passed Hauula Beach Park . Mom saw something, so she turned her head and said “WHOA! Someone else has a head like Jake!” She drove a little farther and then said, “I have got to see who this person is with a head like Jake,” so she turned around to find out whose head this was. Lo and behold, it was Jake with another family who had taken him to the beach. It turns out that there isn’t anyone else with a head like Jake’s after all. We’re thankful that he grew into that head!
We lived right next to the Hawaii temple growing up, and it was a place that we spent some of our free time. Jake used to use the fountain pool at the temple as his personal swimming pool. Why not? Every now and then my mom would get a call from the missionaries saying, “your son was swimming in the pool again, please come and get him.”
The temple also had a tram that shuttled tourists back and forth to the Polynesian Cultural Center several times a day. If you could sneak onto the tram, then that let you into PCC for the day. One day when Jake was 7, he and his friend jumped on the tram without telling anyone and spent a few hours at PCC. Both moms thought the kids were playing at the others’ house. Well, Jake even took pictures at one of the stands with the parrots, not realizing that his oldest brother, Derek, would be at work that evening developing those pictures at Network Photo. They developed the pictures then sent them back to PCC to sell. Derek was surprised when he saw the picture of Jake with the parrots. The next morning mom woke up to an 8x10 glossy of Jake posing as a barefoot tourist with parrots. He got in trouble that day!
As a child, Jake loved to be in the garden. He spent a lot of time with Grandma Clark in both her backyard and ours, weeding and planting. He also enjoyed helping Grandma Whetten weed in her garden.
Jake was always very tall, even as a kid. In fact, he and Brady were neck and neck for several years growing up. They would always ask someone to measure them to see who was tallest this time. They would stand back to back, and someone would put a book over their head to see which way it slanted. The joke was to pants the other person when they were back to back, because that’s when they least expected it. We had a good laugh when we found those pictures.
When Jake was a young teenager, he and his friends decided to create a band, like all cool teenagers do. While the band didn’t really last, his desire to play the guitar did. He never took formal lessons, but learned to play by watching others and practicing every night. I remember that he had glow in the dark stars on the ceiling of his bedroom formed in the shape of a guitar to remind him to practice every night. I used to love sleeping in his room when I came home from college and I was always impressed with his drive to learn to play the guitar. He got to be pretty good. To this day, Jake is the only person in our family with any musical talent (aside from our brother’s wives).
When Jake was about 14 years old, he earned his Eagle Scout. His project was building handicapped ramps for the sidewalks around our neighborhood. I think this was a bigger project than he anticipated. I remember that my dad had to use the jackhammer because Jake was too small for it. Jake waited several months to have his Court of Honor because he wanted to have it when his 3 older brothers could be home to welcome him to the Eagle’s Nest. That was a very proud day for our parents.
Jake graduated from Kahuku High School in 2001. At Kahuku he played goalie on the water polo team. He loved to play water polo! Another hobby of Jake’s was photography. When he was in high school, he went to New York with the photography club. I’ve taken it upon myself to organize his photographs, and I am amazed at how many pictures there are of sunsets, and other scenic views. He truly appreciates the beauty of the earth.
Growing up in Hawaii , Jake loved the water. He enjoyed swimming and scuba diving in the ocean. Jake and I went scuba diving a few times together at Shark’s Cove and Haunama Bay . Whenever we saw a sea turtle or eel, we would do the underwater sign to each other for “cool, check this out!” I’m going to miss my underwater buddy.
Making friends came naturally to Jake. He had friends from every age group and from every walk of life. We even found pictures of him sitting side by side with some of the protesters at the White House in Washington DC . People loved spending time with Jake. Even the people who didn’t know him as well say that he was always so nice and they enjoyed being around him. It’s been a lot of fun going through his pictures and finding pictures of Jake with all kinds of people. Jake has a big smile in all of his pictures.
Being 6’7” Jake stood out in any crowd. He held himself well, tall and proud. In high school, he grew his hair out quite long. He kind of had an afro around his head. I remember when we went to Virginia for Tyler ’s baby blessing. His hair was pretty wild. Grandma Clark told him that he had to make his hair look decent before he went to church and help with the blessing. Knowing the impossibility of this task, he came to me and said, “Can you help me? Grandma said I have to make my hair look nice.”
He was the youngest of 5 children, and lived the part! He bought pretty much whatever he wanted…and he always liked nice things. And he knew how to work the system! He died owing his parents and siblings lots of money because of his extravagant adventures. That’s the way to go!
Jake lived his life to the fullest. He served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tacoma , Washington . He left as what I would call self-centered, spoiled kid, and came back as a grown man. He touched so many lives there, and he loved every minute of it. Our parents were able to pick him up from his mission and spend some time with the people there.
Jake loved his niece and nephews and they loved him. After his mission, he went to Virginia for 2 months, where Todd and his family live. That time was really nice for the kids to get to know their Uncle Jakey. They still call the spare bedroom Uncle Jakey’s room. Jake spent those 2 months helping Todd build his new house and working for a construction company. He was so excited about his plans to follow his brother’s footsteps going into construction management.
A little over a month ago, our parents, Jake, and I were fortunate to go to Europe . We spent a few days together in Germany and Austria with our parents; then Jake and I went to Italy for a week. With his long legs, Jake was always about 20 steps ahead of me everywhere we walked and that was a lot of places! We were both so amazed with the art and the history in Italy . Both of us were so impressed with the beauty of Vatican City . Jake climbed the 400 steps or so to get to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica where there was a beautiful view of the inside of the cathedral and the city of Rome . I was too much of a wimp to climb those stairs…but not Jake. He thrived on the challenge. I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with Jake in Europe this summer.
Jake was currently enrolled at BYU in Construction Management and was so excited to be there. He had decided that he wanted to follow the footsteps of his grandfather, who built this chapel; his father, who is an architect; and his brother, who is a project manager out in Virginia . He was so excited about living in student housing, dating girls, and going to school.
Last Saturday, he was having fun with his friends playing ultimate frisbee when his heart stopped. We are grateful for the 21 years of joy and happiness we had with Jake. Let’s cherish the memories of the wonderful life we shared with Jake.