Summit High School student Jefte Flores remembered by friends, family
Jepte “Jefte” Flores liked drawing and Peter Pan’s Neverland.
He talked about wanting to make the world a better place through his art.
He was the oldest of five children and Rosendo and Ana Flores’ only son. He would’ve been a first-generation college student.
He wore checkered shoes and rolled his pants up to his knees.
He was devoted to his faith and went to church twice on Sundays.
He loved soccer, snowboarding, stargazing.
He made everyone smile.
More than 200 people gathered for his funeral at Dillon Amphitheatre on Saturday, Aug. 29, and devastated family members, high school students, church friends, school district staff and others in the community shared memories, hugs and tears.
Molly Griffith, director of the district’s Pre-Collegiate Program, said, “He would’ve been the one making everybody feel better today.”
‘HE WAS A GIFT’
Jefte died at Green Mountain Reservoir on Saturday, Aug. 22, at age 16.
He was there for a baptism with family and friends, and, after he went to retrieve a ball from the water, he started struggling and crying out for help. The few nearby who knew how to swim, including his father, rushed toward him, but it was too late.
Jefte knew how to swim and visited the reservoir often.
“We would swim there every summer,” said Josue Razo, a fellow Summit High student and friend who met him through church.
Jefte’s father, Rosendo, said Friday that he and the family have taken comfort in their faith in God, and they have been visited by friends, neighbors, family and members of their church.
“Hemos llegado a la conclusión que la vida no es propia (We’ve arrived at the conclusion that life is not your own),” he said. “Fue un regalo, mi hijo. Fue un regalo de Dios que nos permitió disfrutar por casi 17 años (He was a gift, my son. He was a gift from God that he let us enjoy for almost 17 years).”
His mother, Ana, said, “Tenía mucho amor, mi hijo, para todos. (He had much love, my son, for everyone).”
She talked about how affectionate he was and how he often showed his love for family and friends by giving them massages.
Jefte was born in Summit, and his family has lived in Frisco for many years. His father works with Columbine Hills Concrete, and his sisters range in age from 6 to 14 and attend Frisco Elementary and Summit High School.
As a kid, Jefte’s parents said, he talked about wanting to become a lawyer. On his application for the high school’s Pre-Collegiate Program, which helps first-generation college students, he listed professional translator, computer designer and movie director as careers that interested him.
“Le gustaba explorar. Tenía muchos sueños (He liked to explore. He had many dreams),” Rosendo said.
Soccer ball balloons framed the amphitheatre’s stage on a warm, sunny day as a group of Jefte’s Summit High School soccer teammates wearing white jerseys stood in front of those at the funeral to talk about their friend.
They said he didn’t like to say goodbye and preferred “see you later.” One boy couldn’t finish what he’d prepared to say, so another read it for him.
“He was always full of life, very cheerful, hardworking and a very disciplined individual on the pitch and off,” said Brian Schonderger, coach of the boys’ JV soccer team. “He was definitely a person that would pick his teammates up if they were feeling down.”
One teammate who knew Jefte since kindergarten, Alan Castillo, said he always had a smile on his face.
“His happiness transferred to everyone else,” he said.
Another teammate, Mauricio Lozano, said the JV team dedicated its first game last Thursday to their lost teammate and wore black and white headbands around their biceps in his honor.
Lozano, a high school junior, said his 4-year-old sister enjoyed playing with Jefte.
“He was really good with kids,” he said. “He just had something special in him.”
At 8 years old, Jefte joined SOS Outreach, a youth development nonprofit, and he became one of few to progress through the program to the masters level. He mentored younger kids and taught them how to snowboard.
“They all loved him,” said Eric Robinson, a friend and fellow SOS Outreach masters student.
Robinson was the first student honored on Thursday by a memorial award SOS Outreach created in Jefte’s name.
Max Kelemen, SOS Outreach’s youth programs director in Summit, called Jefte a friend who embodied the organization’s core values of courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion and humility.
“He just was a really fun and vibrant young man who understood what we were trying to do,” he said.
Jefte was a goofy but responsible teenager who respected and honored the sacrifices his parents made for him, he added. If Kelemen ever needed last-minute help, “he was always one that I could rely on to show up.”
He said Jefte wasn’t shy and often shouted and waved to strangers on the street.
HIKE AND HELP
Aurora Santos, Pre-Collegiate Program high school coordinator, agreed and remembered how Jefte would yell his hellos to her in school.
He joined the college-prep program two years ago, and, in June, he went with the group to spend two weeks at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
His Pre-Collegiate friends have been supporting each other, and they organized a 14er hike for Jefte for Sept. 20, said Griffith, the program’s director. They encourage anyone to join and plan to meet at the Mt. Elbert trailhead at 6:30 a.m.
“The boys said, ‘We want to hike the tallest peak possible for Jefte,’” she said, and the group wants to raise money for his family in the process.
Last week, an Alpine Bank account was set up for the Flores family, and locals can donate at any Summit County branch. A family friend also set up an online fundraiser through GoFundMe, which has raised about $5,600, for those who can’t donate in person.
Leah Baxter, a parent of one of Jefte’s friends, said she will cover the website’s 8-percent fee. SOS Outreach will match donations made to the Flores family to help pay for funeral and burial costs.
“Nobody should have to go through that let alone worry about how they’re going to pay for this,” she said. “My worst nightmare is losing a child, losing my son.”
Griffith said Jefte’s parents were involved in his life, and Jefte wanted to make his family proud.
“He was kind and friendly and funny,” she said. “He was always that person making other people laugh and smile.”
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