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Around 300 La Grande High School students, friends and community members gathered in the LHS commons for a memorial to Jadin Bell, who died Sunday as a result of injuries from an attempted suicide. CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer
by DICK MASON / The Observer
Jadin Bell, a La Grande High School sophomore who never missed an opportunity to extend a kind word to others, was extended an everlasting salute by his classmates Tuesday night.
Close to 300 people, many of whom were LHS students, attended a memorial service for Bell, who died Sunday in a Portland hospital from injuries suffered in a suicide attempt on Jan. 19.
Bell, who his family believes was driven to suicide by bullying, was remembered for his ever-present smile, charming personality and ability to brighten the day of seemingly everyone he met, according to LHS science teacher Brandon Galvez.
“Jadin’s greatest motivation was to see the people around him laugh and smile,” Galvez said. “Jadin himself was always smiling and it is difficult for me to imagine him not smiling.”
Galvez said Bell kept classes lively with great stories and that on many occasions Galvez had to rein in Bell’s stories because he wanted to keep his class focused.
“Now more than ever I wish I had the opportunity to go back and change my mind,” Galvez said. “The emptiness that Jadin’s death has left shows just how big and beautiful his personality was.”
Bell, who was a member of the school’s cheerleading squad, was also praised for being a genuine person, a brave young man who was not afraid to be himself, according to sophomore Amy Hickey, a friend of Bell’s.
Hickey recalled that when she was at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland visiting Bell, his mother, Lola Lathrop, asked what Jadin would want for his classmates.
“Keep loving each other, be a light for each other and move forward. As we do, do not be fake so we can be true to ourselves and others,” Hickey said she told Bell’s mother.
Sophomore Sydney Mack described Bell as the kindest person she ever met.
“He touched so many people in life and I don’t think it has stopped,” Mack said.
The sophomore said Bell started a chain reaction of kindness. Now others will be treating people the way Bell would be.
Teresa Dowdy, a counselor at the school, said she did not know Bell well because he never came to her office to discuss problems or request schedule changes. Dowdy, though, has spent much time with students over the past 2-1/2 weeks talking about Bell and what he meant to them.
“We have cried and laughed,” Dowdy said.
Many of the stories students shared with Dowdy were touching and humorous. One good friend of Bell’s told Dowdy how he bought her a dress which was pretty but not big enough for her.
“She didn’t have the heart to tell him it was too small,” Dowdy said.
Dowdy said Bell had a huge smile and was always with friends. He was the type of person who loved people unconditionally, which was evident because he had friends from all walks of life.
Principal Andrea Waldrop, who helped coordinate the memorial service in the LHS commons, was among the many who saw Bell lift the spirits of others.
“Before we had Jadin to tell us how good we are. Now we need to help each other feel good about ourselves,” she said.