On Sept. 21, 2019 the body of a young man was recovered from the Redwood River.

That 15-year-old, Thunder Brothers of All, was honored and celebrated by family, friends and people who may not have ever met him during a memorial service in the Redwood Valley schools gym Sept. 25.

Those who may not have known him got a much better picture of Thunder Brothers of All, as those who knew and loved him spoke of his smile and the pride he had in who he was.

John Roy, a member of Thunder’s extended family, led the service and shared his experiences and memories of the young man whose life, said Roy, was cut short by a swimming accident.

Roy called him “nephew” and recalled the privilege he had being able to see him grow up into a young man who was committed to his culture.

“He wanted to be a good representative of his community,” said Roy. “He was a good boy.”

Thunder, added Roy, was one who liked to sing, and he said now he is able to do that even more in the “happy hunting grounds.”

The service was indeed a solemn occasion, but it was a celebration simply because so many people had come together.

“He would have liked this,” said Roy, adding the hope is that something good can come from this tragedy and that people will remember Thunder’s life as one that, even though it was short, was well lived.

“The memories you have will never die,” said Roy.

Family members and friends shared their memories of Thunder, all expressing their commitment to keep his legacy going through their actions.

They recalled Thunder as an artist, a skater and one who liked to make jokes. They all agreed he loved everyone, and that you could not ask for a better friend.

Yes, the loss of one so young is painful, said Roy, adding those who knew Thunder have heavy hearts and are troubled. Yet, he said, Thunder is now in a better place with no more pain and no more suffering. 

Among those who were part of the service were the six young people who were with Thunder the day he disappeared washed away by the river. While a family could have been bitter and placed blame, they demonstrated something much bigger that afternoon, as they blessed those young people offering them a sign of compassion.

Roy said he knows the young people who were with him are very troubled about what happened, but he said this was not their fault. Kids do things and make choices that parents and grandparents do not always appreciate, said Roy, adding that is what life is all about. He said the desire of the family is that they move forward with their life and remember not that day when they lost their friend but the good times they spent with Thunder.

“The bond you have with Thunder will never die,” he said. “Your memories will never die.”

On behalf of the family, Roy also expressed appreciation to the community that demonstrated so much support for the family, and he said that kind of support goes a long way to bridge the gap between two cultures living together.

Roy encouraged everyone to walk together hand in hand regardless of the color of their skin, adding this gathering just shows how people living together can overcome racism.

Those attending were encouraged to do something good for someone else when they left as a way to continue the legacy of Thunder.

Roy added the next time you hear the thunder rolling overhead during a storm remember the young man who touched so many lives and did his best through his smile to make the world a better place.