By Ruben Zamora and Sue Zamora
Ruben’s remembrance: From a little boy to a fine young man, we have so many fond memories of our son, Jacob. Where does one start? Was it his smile that could light up a room? His way of making you smile, even when you were down and didn’t want to? Or his willingness to help, and his kindness for others?
While growing up Jacob would always be at my side, wanting to help with whatever project I was working on. Whether it was a dog house, or repairing a bathroom sink, I enjoyed having him beside me.
Jacob was not afraid to try new things. He played baseball, basketball, roller hockey and swam on his high school swim team. Jake didn’t sign up for his Freshman year of swim because he said he wouldn’t wear a Speedo for anyone. However, he spent the next three years swimming for Canyon High.
At one of the CHP Explorer’s competitions in Paso Robles, he got a chance to ride a mechanical bull. When he came home from that weekend, the initials PBR (Professional Bull Rider) were on the inside bill of his ball cap. He’d had a taste of what it was like to be a cowboy.
He loved the outdoors, camping, hiking, shooting, and surfing. Jake was a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and made Eagle Scout. Jake learned how to shoot a gun at an early age, and was good at it. He got to the point where he was outshooting me and his Tío Vic. Tío Victor said I would throw Jake the easy ones. Actually, working at Oak Tree, Jake had picked up a lot of pointers and tips from all the friends he’d made there.
Jacob made a lot of friends in his short life, and could talk to anyone, regardless of their age. He would come home and tell us about the new friends he’d made, whether it was from school, work, or at the beach.
Sue and I were very blessed with the 19 years we had Jacob here with us, and we have been all the more blessed with the family and friends we have today.
Sue’s remembrance: Jacob learned many lessons in his short, 19 years of life. He knew to always be respectful and tolerant of people, even if they were not looking out for his best interest.
There were adversities that Jake faced from elementary school through high school, but his learning difficulties only made him a more compassionate person, and he continued to grow without losing his confidence. He learned to be kind, but truthful to people, especially to his Tía Cathy and her ‘experimental’ dinners.
Jake was quite the practical joker as well. A few of his greatest pranks being the time he brought a taser to a Boy Scout campout, giving John S. a great scare, when in fact the taser was only his broken Remington razor. Another time he went to Tía Cathy’s for dinner, and when he got there he went over to her with his best straight face and said, “Tía Cathy, I got suspended today.” Tía Cathy, very concerned, asked why. Jake replied, “‘Cause I brought my guns to school.” With that, Jake raised his arms to display his biceps to her.
I know in my heart Jake would have been an extremely successful adult. With every new birth in our family, I wonder how many grandkids we might have now if Jake had lived. Our son is missed every single day. Jake’s passing does not get easier with time, we just have learned to cope better with the world we live in.
In Remembrance 2017
By Lee Souleles
I first met Jake, Sue, Ruben, Josh and Becca, when Jake joined Cub Scouts in the First Grade. That was when Jake and my son, Rian, became good friends. At the time Cub Scout Pack 48 was a fledgling organization, with its leadership having moved on to Boy Scouts, and the Zamora, Hawkins and other families jumped in to take the helm. It was then that decades long friendships were born.
In the world encompassing Cub Scout Pack 48 there are so many great memories with Jake: hikes, Blue and Gold Dinners, Pine-Wood Derbys, and family camping trips. I specifically remember Christmastime, packing mistletoe in our driveway, and Bill Hawkins with his guitar, leading Pack 48 through our local convalescent homes, singing Must Be Santa. Jake was always one of the sweetest voices, kind, inquisitive, and helpful, he had everything it took to make an exemplary Boy Scout. Jake was an exemplary child. We were delighted Rian and Jake were friends.
Around junior high, Rian left the Scouting program, and Jake stayed on. Soon the boys lost connection finding their own pursuits. Jake stayed with Scouts, eventually becoming an Eagle Scout, Rian got involved with music. The families lost touch in these years as well, but reconnected when the boys were in high school. Sue, Francie Hawkins, and I became (and still are) very close friends. I am honored to be part of this Foundation.
Just a few days after September 11, 2001 Jake suggested we collect American flags and stand along the Weldon overpass (interestingly, it’s the bridge you cross to get to Oak Tree Gun Club) to show our support for the United States Of America, and our respect for those who were lost on that fateful day. We received enthusiastic replies from the cars along the 5 Freeway passing below us, but soon the CHP (another interesting tidbit) arrived and made us leave. We gently complained, but the officer wouldn’t budge, so we took our flags and relocated to the corner of Newhall Avenue and Sierra Highway.
In November, 2003, on the day of Jake’s funeral, Saint Clare’s was overflowing with mourners. Family and friends came in from everywhere. So many people arrived for the Mass I imagined Jake, sitting high in the rafters of the sanctuary, looking down on all of us, at peace and smiling, maybe a little surprised himself that he’d touched so many lives, so meaningfully, in his 19 short years. I know he would have made an awesome California Highway Patrol officer. A good husband. A wonderful father.
In 2004, Oak Tree Gun Club suggested a November shoot in honor of Jake’s memory. Thanks to Betsy, Jim, the Oak Tree staff, and the help of countless others, over time it has grown, and now, through the Jacob Zamora Foundation, we provide support to local CHP Explorer’s programs, scholarships to high school seniors here in the SCV, and assistance to families who have suffered tragic losses in our community. Thanks to Sue, Ruben, Josh, and Becca, Jake’s legacy lives on. Jake was a remarkable young man, he will never be forgotten.
In Remembrance 2016
By Grace Reick
Jacob Anthony Zamora was my beautiful nephew. He was the first grandson born into the Zamora family. Jacob followed 3 years behind our daughter Janis. Soon after Jacob, we had our son, James, and then my brother, Ruben, and sister-in-law, Sue, had Joshua. At that point our parents banned us from any more J names. So Ruben and Sue had Rebecca, and we had Christine. Done. Boom. Instant cousins. Now the memories of childhood they all share are filled with love, laughter, frustration, and tears. All precious time.
When Jacob was a young Boy Scout he was going on a camping trip. With rain in the forecast, I remember saying, “Mijo, they should cancel the trip.” He replied, “Oh, Tia Grace, we are prepared for anything, plus this will be fun!” I remember thinking, Jacob is so young to be so dedicated and has such a positive attitude. But that’s pretty much how he was all his life. Always ready to help, with a true motive. His actions spoke louder than words, and that was proven in his devotion to God, his family, friends, Scouts—all the way to Eagle Scout, his work, and being a CHP Explorer—on his way to becoming a CHP Officer.
In October, 1990, we moved to our house in Saugus. The Scouts had been planting trees for Arbor Day. Jacob came over and said, “Tia Grace, I saved the last tree for your housewarming. It’s and Oak.” I remember asking, “Mijo, how long until I get to enjoy this Oak tree?” His answer? “Not long, this is a fast growing Oak.” We call it Jacob’s tree. It’s so beautiful and it’s always dropping seedlings. My husband, Jim, is always transplanting them into pots. He’s even got one to grow in Las Vegas for Jacob’s Tio Victor. It’s a giving tree, just like Jacob.
On November 22nd, when Jacob died, we all gathered in the hospital room. We came to cry, pray, and even laugh a little. I had to leave to deliver a Thanksgiving turkey to a family. I remember noticing how exceptionally beautiful the sky was that day. And there, in the corner of the parking lot, was a sight even more beautiful—It was the Boy Scouts, setting up tables and preparing food. Ready to serve. I thought it was so fitting, this beautiful act of service, just like Jacob.
The months that followed Jacob’s death lead to an artwork of memorial tattoos in his honor. I remember thinking, Well, that’s an act of true love. About a year after Jacob’s death I was in a business talking to the owner and Jacob’s name came up. She cried, “My grandson is still so mournful for him.” I replied, “He has the most beautiful tattoo.” Then, she replied, “WHAT TATTOO!”
We have 2 baby boys in the family named after Jacob, one being my grandson. They have heard what a wonderful young man their namesake was, and continues to be, as his scholarships help bless other young people with their futures.
Year after year, by the grace of God, it’s wonderful to see the hard work that is driven by the love and devotion of Jacob’s parents, Ruben and Sue, his brother, Joshua, and sister, Rebecca, and all the family, friends, and very dedicated committee members; who have come together to have grown this into the Jacob Zamora Memorial Foundation, and it makes me proud to say JAZ was my beautiful nephew.
By Isaac Zamora
It’s funny how some small thing in life will take you back to a certain moment in time or remind you of a person. For me it’s anytime I go to Del Taco and order deluxe chili fries with no onions, or what I refer to as a Jake Special, that I think of Jake. When Jake was working at Oak Tree, I would often call him to see when he was working and to see if he had taken his lunch. If he didn’t pack a lunch, he would request the Jake Special, as I headed up to Oak Tree. If he wasn’t slammed with work, I would head up there and spend a couple of hours hanging out. Jake oftentimes would just talk about anything that came to mind as we shot a round of sporting clays or trap. Now, as I look back at those times, I can’t begin to tell you how much I looked forward to shooting with Jake. He taught me how to lead the clay on a few stations and how to approach others with ease. But more importantly, he taught me how to love life just a little more.
My little nephew has taught me a lot about life. With Jacob’s passing, I learned to appreciate what time I have to spend with loved ones, for we may not be here tomorrow. I learned to smile at things I cannot control and to look at the positive side of a not so ideal situation. I have tried to model my life after Jake’s, in the sense that I want to have a positive impact on others around me. I am honored to call Jake my little nephew. In just nineteen years of his life, he touched so many people’s hearts with his infectious smile and kind heart.
I work part time at Oak Tree and on some Saturday mornings you can find me at the half-way house eating a hearty breakfast of Del Taco tacos and burritos and staring out over the Santa Susanna Mountain range. I have this breakfast with Jake in mind…and I’d like to think that he is by my side. During this special time, I think of Jake and all those who have gone before me and I pray that someday we will all be reunited in heaven.
By Angelica Mendoza
It makes me happy to see that year after year, so many people continue to come out and honor Jacob’s memory. Even though bittersweet, it’s a testament of how great a person he was and I am lucky to have known him.
I remember this tall, lanky kid with a smile that would brighten up a room, whose laugh was infectious, whose personality you couldn’t help but be drawn to, and who dreamt big about everything. He loved unconditionally without ever asking for anything in return and he’d invite you into his life whether he’d known you forever or had just met you. He was genuine in everything that he did and everyone he talked to. But my most favorite things about Jacob, were that he truly exemplified what love, loyalty, friendship and forgiveness are.
I was lucky to have known him, that God put someone in my life, albeit a short time, who had me look at life from a different perspective. To this day, I still laugh about the very endearing nickname he gave me, Choont, which lives on to this day with the Zamora family. One time he talked me into going to Mervyn’s the day after Thanksgiving so that I could stand in his line and help him earn a dollar by answering his, “May I interest you in a Mervyn’s card?” Every Monday Night Football he would burst through the door announcing his arrival home in his own silly way. Sometimes when I hear the door to his house open, I think he is going to walk through. I wonder how he’d be conquering the world right if he was still with us, but no matter how sad I am when I think of the ‘what ifs,’ I know that there is still an angel watching over me, smiling. And with that, I find comfort. You will never be forgotten.
By Rian Souleles
Ten years ago today, my friend, Jacob Zamora, left this world because of an accident when he was 19 years old. Since that day, the memory of Jacob has been with me and many others who loved him. Even after his death, Jacob has given me gifts, the most precious, being his spirit, which is one of the myriad things that I surround myself with as a reminder to be compassionate and loving, and to have a deep awareness and gratitude for the life that has been given to me. My heart goes out to the Zamora family and all who loved him.
by Cathy Zamora
Jacob, your life began with such a wild ride adventure as I drove your Nana and mother to Edwards Air Force base. I still recall all the ups and downs which may have brought you into this life with a conehead. I’m sure it was all the dips and not my driving. But just like your head, you rounded out quite beautifully.
You were always sweet and loving. I have fond memories of baking and cooking for you and your brother and sister. I especially loved that you were always open and honest with me about the things I made. You would always tell me what you did and didn’t like. One thing I know you really liked was the chocolate mint ice cream cake I made. One time I made it for your and cousin James’ birthdays. On the way into the house it fell and the glass pan it was in shattered. I remember coming outside worried about the broken glass only to find you and James very carefully eating what you could of it.
I loved our times together. I recall our ski trip, and me being Tia Cata, insisted you and James get in with a child’s tickets. But when the ski lift operator, staring at your height, asked what year you were born, being caught off guard, you couldn’t come up with an answer quick enough. So they allowed you to continue to ski with the kid’s admission anyway. We all laughed. I still recall you saying, “Tia Cata!”
How I loved my time with you. Whether it was taking walks at the Nature Center or looking at the shapes in the clouds, how you made me so proud. Jacob, I wonder if our experience at Vons, when the store was held up at gunpoint, had anything to do with you entering into the Explorer Program that would have led you to the Highway Patrol. I was so proud of how you, Josh and Becca were so brave. But once you saw your mom and dad you three quickly traded courage for the safety of home and you cried your little hearts out.
Despite that experience, I feel you would have followed your heart into a life of serving others anyway. You were uniquely caring. Nothing was ever overlooked by you. You often showed concern for others.
Jacob, I love the way you would share with me the many things you would see. Whether it was a hawk, a deer, the sunrise, the sunset, the mountains, or the colors in the sky, you would tell me how you thought of me. You truly were aware of God’s beauty all around. I know you were grounded in faith.
As I recall these memories Jacob, know that your Tia Cata loves you, thinks of you, misses your smile and your laugh.
by Betsy James
As I look back over the past eight years working on the Jacob Anthony Zamora Sporting Clay Memorial Shoot, so much emotion fills my heart. With the help of all the committee members, family, friends and participants, I continue to be amazed with the amount of love and generosity that has been dedicated to this special event in remembrance of Jacob. I am honored to have been chosen to share my memories of Jacob with everyone this year.
The most special memory I have about Jacob was the kind and considerate way he acknowledged his family and friends. It is not frequent that any employee visits my office to talk about how awesome it was surfing that morning, or how excited they were to be giving a ring to their girlfriend (and proudly showing it to me). Jacob always talked about his family, his parents, brother and sister, grandparents, aunts…. I could hardly keep up with which aunt had the Pomeranian, or whose house everyone would be going to for dinner! I remember when Jacob helped at my wedding, he make a point to come and hug me before he left, something that many invited guests didn’t even do.
It is no surprise that Jacob was well liked among his peers and customers. Jacob took an active role participating in the shotgun sports (and he was a very good shooter). He was always willing to assist and help with anything that required attention. When I received his application for a reference for the Newhall CHP Explorer program, I was excited that he was pursuing an interest in becoming a CHP Officer, but not surprised that his pursuits were headed in the direction of public service. Jacob possessed integrity and leadership qualities that I hope my own children have some day.
Working with the Zamora family these past eight years had made me realize how sincere and special Jacob truly was, and I will continue my efforts every year to help make that Jacob Anthony Zamora Sporting Clay Memorial Shoot an event Jacob would be proud of.
By Francie Hawkins
Even though it was a summer evening, the chill in the night air urged us to inch a little closer to the campfire as we drew our jackets tighter to us. The glow of the campfire played off Jacob’s face as the echoes of the day danced in his eyes. His smile was ever present, you could sense a good story or joke was about to spring from his lips.
I think of Jacob and remember our family camping excursions together. Hiking to the summit of mountains where Jacob, Josh, Becca, and friends threw their arms out and were kings of the world for a brief moment. Plunging into an ice cold stream and the music of his laughter mingled with the bubbling of the water as he splashed the others. I remember Sue beating pots and pans to scare away the bears and how he laughed.
I remember his smile, his sincerity, his joyous personality, but most of all I remember his laughter. The beauty of his spirit was in the purity of his nature. It was about the moment, it was about his love for family and friends, it was about his love of life.
Jacob’s view of life was not complicated. He faced the world and all its challenges with unwavering faith and courage. Undaunted by setbacks, he always managed to put others before himself. He always had a smile. That smile would wrap you up and make you forget your worries.
As I try to put these words down, I draw on all my memories of Jacob. I see the young Cub Scout. I see the many steps he made in becoming an Eagle Scout. I watch him grow from an exuberant little boy into a young man with honest dedication. A young man who would follow his convictions.
He strived to be the best through his swimming, the challenge of the Explorers, in his job, and as a son and older brother. Yet he never passed on an opportunity to help others, to lead, train or assist; whatever the need was, he was there. And as always, with his smile.
Seven years ago I struggled with how to say good bye to a spirit as pure as his? He answered me in a dream. He said, “Mrs. Hawkins, don’t worry, everything is going to be all right!” And then he smiled!
His spirit lives on. I carry his memory within me. At times when the days go dark and cloudy and I can’t see beyond the bend in the road, I think of him, his encouraging nature and his smile, and I see the sun.
By Valerie Zamora
I used to get random calls saying, “Hey, Tia Valerie, you have to listen to this song I found – it’s good.” Most Monday mornings I’d get a personalized surf report, whether I was going surfing or not. I’d get calls from Jacob about all sorts of things: school, Scouts, how great the water was when he’d last surfed, and new people he’d met. Needless to say I miss sharing those conversations.
Being only six years younger than me, I’d always seen Jacob as much my friend as he was my nephew. I enjoyed watching him grow into a young man who made choices and decisions for himself and who had passion and commitment. By nineteen he had developed some pretty defined convictions, displaying qualities and attributes that people in their 30’s and 40’s have yet to discover. To see his dedication to Scouts, the Explorers, his work, his family and his friends was inspiring to me. I was really proud to see him compete in swim, become a life guard, and become an Eagle Scout. He showed such enthusiasm for life. Jacob was a person who lived his life with such joy and hopeful anticipation for the future. I don’t think he ever really knew how much impact he had on those around him. After all, what nineteen-year-old has over 1,200 people show up to say, “Goodbye?”
The love and support shown by others when we lost him was a testament to his character. He was a rare kind of kid who had no ego. He was funny and witty and quirky too. Jacob had the most amazing ability to make people feel welcomed and included. It’s no doubt to me that he learned this from his parents; a true Zamora trait.
Both long-time friends and people he’d only known a short time have spoken to his genuine, kind and happy spirit. Jacob also had the best smile. It was so true that when he smiled his whole face lit up and his eyes smiled too. His smile is one of my favorite things to remember about him.
There are times that I luck out on a great parking spot and times that I’ll catch an incredible sunset. There are also times that I’ll look down at my speedometer and see that I’m going too fast, just to look up and see a CHP behind me and then pass me by. Whenever I have moments like these I say, “Thanks Jake.” I know he’s there helping us all out, especially when we need it most. There is an ache in my heart that I still feel from losing him so suddenly, but it settles when I turn my thoughts towards seeing him again—when he will one day welcome me to that most joyous place that he has already come to know.
By Rebecca Zamora
Losing Jacob is the hardest thing I’ve gone through so far in my life. Even though he has been gone for five short years, I know that he continues to teach me so much. Even though he wasn’t there for the achievements I’ve made since his death, I know that he is with me in spirit. Even though he is not here to sit at the dinner table and have a conversation with, I know he is always listening to me whenever and wherever I need to talk. Needless to say he is not here in the flesh, but I know that he is alive in my heart, and will continue to be until I meet him again.