February 24, 1995 - June 12, 2018
As a parent I never imagined I would be tasked with writing an obituary for one of my children. It has taken a lot of tears, but here is a very brief insight into the short life of Jacob Ham.
Jacob Robert Ham, 23, died on the evening of June 12, 2018 from the mis-handling of a firearm.
Jacob was born at Meridian Park Hospital in Tualatin, Oregon on February 24, 1995 at approximately 9:30 pm. Jacob was so proud that he was the biggest baby born that evening, 9 lbs. 5 ounces 21 .5 inches, but mom, Lisa Ham, was not so thrilled with his size!
Jacob grew up in Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood attending Llewelyn elementary school, Sellwood Middle school and graduating from Cleveland High School in 2013
From the time he was little Jacob was very agile. (he walked at 11 months and could ride a bike at age 3), Jacob loved playing sports. Soccer, basketball, golf, football and baseball. By the time he reached his senior year at Cleveland he had narrowed his sports down to baseball. He was the starting Shortstop (Per Wikipedia, playing shortstop is the most demanding defensive position) who had a good glove and a great arm to throw runners out. While still in high school he worked as a caddy at Waverley Country Club. At one of the big tournaments I asked who he caddied for. He said some old Trail Blazer. I asked who it was, but he was not sure but said there was another guy named Russell who was really tall in their group. As it turned out it was Bill Russell!
After graduation Jacob went to work for UPS, often riding his bike from Sellwood down to Swan Island and back.
He worked hard loading boxes and as it turned out he met the love of his life there, Katherine Frahm. After 3 years at UPS Jacob decided to get a job in the trade industry. He was able to work for a masonry contractor for the past 18 months. He built stone fences, fireplaces, walkways; and even traveled to the Bend area for a week of work. He really enjoyed working with his hands and being able to create something. He was so proud of his work he would show pictures of them on his phone when he came over.
There are so many great memories of Jacob that it would take a book and not an obituary to cover them. Here are a few from mom, dad and sister.
Dad: Jacob loved to play golf with me, one day I invited him to be my caddie at a charity tournament I was playing in. On the Par 3 closest to the pin hole that was sponsored by “Hooters” all members of my group missed the green. We gave Jacob a shot at it and he smoothed a 5 iron within 10’ of the pin. He was so excited. And so were the “Hooter” girls. They gave him a t-shirt, they all signed it, and one of the girls wrote “come see me when you are 18”. That took a bit of explaining to him on my part.
Mom: The first two years of Jacob’s life his best friend and playmate was his sister Megan. I remember him sitting inside the large toy box and Megan would bring him toys and he would just look up to her and smile. I remember once they were old enough for me to bring to the gym daycare one of the helpers told me how they got along so well and that they were always looking out for each other. I laughed and said yes they play well together and fight well too. Jacob helped give Megan the confidence to take her training wheels off as he was ready by the time he was barely 3. He loved being active to a point of parent exhaustion but once his head hit the pillow he fell quickly to sleep.
He would wake up again very happy and ready to take on a new day. His favorite toys were things you could throw or hit with and he also always loved animals! He enjoyed dressing up in play clothes and dancing while listening to Disney songs along with Megan and her friends.
He had a hamster when he was about 10 he named Vinny after Vincent Young the football player (2005 Texas Longhorn). He loved the Longhorns and even painted his room orange and brown. A story I remember from middle school was how he played the clarinet in the school. The end of the year concert I could tell he was not playing half the time, but sitting real close to one of his best friends Neil who was playing quite well. Afterword’s I asked him and he said “well at least I faked it well,” and Neil played good enough for the both us.
We realized he needed a lot of physical activity to help him concentrate in school so we were able to have him have PE class every term in middle school. He was very social and loved hanging out with friends all through his high school years. Of course by then it was hanging at the friend’s house where they had a good basement or the parents were not home as much as us. I have many a Mother’s Day card saying he knew I wanted the best for him and apologizing for being difficult as teenager sometimes. He was just sweet that way and always telling how much he loved us.
One the last memories I have of his time at home was when I made his sister and him go on a weekend family trip to a place called paradise a cabin on the Santiam river. I had the feeling it could be one of our last trips together without other people. Jake had just graduated and Megan was home from college. It started to look like it was going to be a disaster as we ended up being out of cell phone range and off the grid and no TV. Not exactly young people’s idea of fun.
We found the swimming hole and bought a couple floaties and some tasty cold beverages. Megan and Jake were floating around relaxing and we saw a group of teenagers come down the side of the hill to hang out and watch people. There was a couple of cute girls and Jacob told me “Mom I am going to wait to talk to one of those girls.” I smiled and floated back to shore. Sure enough he stayed for a long time and when he came back to the cabin he announced “I got one of their numbers.” When I asked if was going to call he said no because they live too far away. He was very proud of himself. I also have some great memories of him skipping rocks with Marc, hanging out by the side of the river with our old Lab Vega and floating down some rapids in the freezing cold water.
After he moved out it was hard to not miss him. The empty nest set in, but we got use it and his life seemed filled with the joy of working and living with his girlfriend Katherine. It made our family fuller! He came around as much as time would allow and also during holidays, birthday, etc. Getting to go to their apartment was always full of love. He even made us “homemade” microwave cookies last year when they had their apartment on 23rd. He was loved talking about their cat and all the crazy thing it did.
Sister: Writing an obituary for my younger brother is something I never imagined I would be doing, an experience that is truly ineffable. I will always have fond childhood memories of playing outside for hours in the back yard, the park, public pool and yearly beach trips. When I became a moody teenager we still played basketball together and he would bond with me by watching movies and reminding me to have compassion for our parents. As I grew older and left for school he graduated high school and meet someone that made him very happy. Jacob was growing up and it seemed to be happening so fast. Although he wasn’t much into texting, we had a strong unspoken bond and we always hugged and said love you. I was so proud of him and the hard work he was putting into his apprenticeship, working outside with his hands seemed to be something that he enjoyed. The artistic aspect of it made me happy for him. I can without doubt say that we all feel he left us too soon, now we must hold him in our hearts and memories and remember what he stood for: love and compassion.
“Life shall be built in doing and suffering and creating.”-William James
Jacob was such a kind hearted young man and very faithful to all those around him. His work ethic was very strong, as this was attested by his boss, who shared that Jacob would very often push him to stay on a job site an extra hour or so to finish up the project.
Jacob was loved so much by his mom Lisa Ham, dad Marc Ham, sister Megan Ham, girlfriend Katherine, grandparents Bob and Evelyn Rogers and Grandma Barbara Ham along with all his relatives and friends.
There will be a remembrance celebration for Jacob on July 14 from 1:00-4:00 at The SMILE center (8210 SE 13th). This is an open house, giving people time to come and share their stories about this amazing young man. This will not be a formal sit down event. We ask that you come when you can during that time period and stay as long as you like. Please feel free to wear your favorite sneakers in honor of Jacob.