Over the past week, a handful of Puyallup-area school teachers began collecting stories about Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, Powell, the two boys killed by their father, Josh Powell, on February 5 near Graham.
Serendipitously, one of the teachers, Tammy Oughton – who had been Charlie’s kindergarten teacher at Emma Carson Elementary school – is the daughter of Pat Forman, a local author and a big supporter of the Mountain News. Through this connection, the Mountain News was included in this exchange of remembrances.
Key to the story gathering was Janene Jasinski, a substitute teacher at Carson Elementary. In particular, she gathered many anecdotes about Charlie from his first-grade teacher, John Huson.
Janene is also a family friend of the boys’ grandparents, Charles and Judith Cox, and Ms. Jasinski was instrumental in not only pulling all the many stories into a seamless narrative but also sharing them with the Mountain News.
In that process, Janene made it clear to the Mountain News that the family wanted a balanced portrayal, with stories of both Charlie and Braden included in the following article. In addition, the family desired that we delay publication until after the memorial service on Saturday at the Life Christian Church in Tacoma, where many of these stories would comprise the eulogies for Charlie and Braden.
It is my understanding that Janene wrote the eulogies for the two boys, and she also assisted us in obtaining pictures.
At the memorial service, Ms. Oughton read the eulogy for Charlie, while Braden’s was delivered by a Pre-K teacher named Kristie King, who was accompanied in her eulogy by a colleague named Kara Cornworth. The full service can be seen on the KIRO TV web site: http://www.kirotv.com/videos/news/memorial-service-held-for-charlie-and-braden/vF3tz/
We have also enclosed a summation of several stories from the YMCA Pre-K teachers as provided by Ms. Jasinski, some of which had been included in the eulogies, but not all.
Charles Joshua Powell
Charles Joshua Powell was born on January 19, 2005 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His first five years in the West Valley City home on Sarah Circle were enriched by loving friends in the Hunter 36th Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he attended Primary and other ward activities. (His) Uncle Kirk, Aunt Jenny and their five children, Kirsi Hewell, Debbie Caldwell and her daycare, and many other friends were important in little Charlie’s life. At an early age Charlie displayed a keen intellect and compassionate heart. He loved to work along side his mother in the garden, making salsa and bread. He was fascinated with insects and critters discovered on picnics and field trips.
Charlie moved to South Hill, Washington two years ago and attended a YMCA summer camp in 2010. Then he attended Carson Elementary that fall for kindergarten, and I had the honor of being Charlie Powell’s Kindergarten teacher.
He was an amazing young man. He had an appreciation for nature that I have never seen in someone so young. He loved rocks, sticks, leaves and bugs. He collected these items at recess and always had a hard time parting with them when it was time to return to class. He often left them by the outside door so he could play with them later.
On many occasions, he tried to sneak a worm or caterpillar into the class. He was a good sport whenever I “caught” him, and he would make sure the bug was safe and sound before joining the class.
Charlie loved to write. He enjoyed every aspect of writing – from formulating ideas to writing the story and creating a marketing plan for the book. My favorite story was about how to grow plants. Charlie worked especially hard on the cover. He even included a detailed bar code. Without any prompting, he designed a marketing flyer, which included a release date for the book and offered “free seeds” to the first 100 people who purchased the book. He brought in zip-lock baggies of apple seeds in anticipation of the “publishing date.”
Classmates liked the silly little things he did to make them laugh. The last time I saw him, Charlie was standing on the lawn in front of the school. He had his coat on backward and his hood covered his face. He was doing some kind of ninja moves. It made me smile.
His first grade teacher, John Huson, shared this about Charlie, who was in his class this year:
“One week ago, Charlie approached me in class and said, “Mr. Huson, guess what? You are getting a new student.”
I said, “Really, how do you know?”
He went on to say, “Well, I am moving and you are getting a new student. This new student will also be using my desk and my book box. This new student looks like me and he sounds just like me. The only difference is the new student will be wearing glasses.”
So, I finally caught on that this was Charlie’s funny way of telling me he is getting glasses. I said, “Well, I can’t wait to meet this new student because he will be in the cool glasses club like me.”
I loved how Charlie always tried to think of unique ways to communicate. He always had a huge grin on his face when he knew he was being clever.
Charlie was a well-liked student in the classroom. There was never a time this year where Charlie didn’t have a partner or a friend to talk to.
In our class Charlie was known as the little scientist. When we learned about sea stars and crabs he shared what he knew about their defense mechanisms and things they ate and the type of habitat they lived in and the texture of their skin and the type of family they were from, “Not a family like a brother or sister, Mr. Huson, a family of animals that are like that animal,” and so on.
He would literally just want to talk and talk about a subject for huge chunks of time. And when he did, the kids listened.
I remember one lesson about weather when I said, “This is something that scientists spend many hours doing and studying.”
A student raised her hand and said, “Ah, Mr. Huson, Charlie is a scientist,” inferring we should ask him.
My response was, “Yes, yes, he is,” and I just looked at him and smiled.”
Charlie’s grandparents observed that he was an artist and an engineer as well. His time was consumed with constructing things from cardboard, paper, tape, Legos®, tinker toys and play dough.
Charlie’s 2012 New Year’s resolution was to build a new special project every week, and he was on track to make that goal so far this year. He was enthralled with the progress of the addition being built on the house the past couple of months and loved to help Grandpa whenever he could. For his 7th birthday last month, Charlie was disappointed that the winter storm and power outage prevented most of the guests from coming. But the computer he got from his grandparents made up for it, and he spent hours playing educational games on it.
He loved learning facts. He called non-fiction books, “real books”, and he had an amazing ability to remember what he learned.
Charlie parted this life on February 5, 2012 but his funny, bright, compassionate personality lives on with all who knew him. He, too, is safe in his mother’s arms, enveloped in the grace of their Savior, Jesus Christ.
We will miss him, but he will not be forgotten.
Braden Timothy Powell
Braden Timothy Powell was born on January 2, 2007 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was blessed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and attended the Hunter 36th Ward. His first three years were spent in West Valley City where he thrived on vegetables from his mother’s garden, her homemade bread and pies. Braden loved playing with his cousins, Aunt Jenny and Uncle Kirk, and other family friends.
At Daydreams and Fun Things Childcare with Debbie Caldwell, Braden and his brother enjoyed outings to the zoo and the Wheeler Farm. Picnics at parks were a favorite family past time. Braden and his best friend, Leif, would sit and play trucks for a long time. One of his former day-care mates recalls that Braden and Charlie were always losing their socks, a habit that continued, and she said they always stood by each other.
Since December of 2009, the boys resided in South Hill, Washington. They attended the YMCA summer camp in 2010, where they began making new friends with teachers and children there.
Most recently Braden was enrolled in the YMCA Pre-K School where he was well known for telling exciting stories. Teacher Miss Candace said that Braden walked through the doors everyday with a big smile on his face.
Braden loved being at school with the other children. He was kind and attentive to other’s needs and was a ready helper to set up the next activity.
At meal or snack times he attended to the needs of his classmates, making sure they had enough to eat. He was polite and considerate.
Braden had a sharp mind and big imagination. He loved building whatever he could envision with brightly colored magnetic blocks, tinker toys, and Legos. When his latest invention was finished, he wanted everyone to see it. He was also a budding puzzle master. He could do 48-piece puzzles by himself, and when his brother tired of doing a 100-piece puzzle with Grandpa, Braden would finish it with Grandpa.
Braden had a contagious joyful energy, and he was a tease! He played a cat and mouse game where he tried to bate one teacher in order to tag another. With a huge smile on his angelic face he would give Miss Kristin that look like, “You gonna come and get me?” If Kristin pretended not to see him, he would yell, “Hey! Come chase me Miss Kristin!” When playing “Red Light, Green Light”, he would trip and fall when the teacher said “Yellow”, and then jump up and say he was alright. Braden was also a tickle monster. He loved to tickle and be tickled. He was physically strong and never tired of running.
Braden loved playing outside in his grandparents’ backyard, often trailing big brother Charlie, and hunting frogs and catching insects. He liked to help Grandma gather produce from her garden, too. Sticks and dirt and rocks became his toys and tools in the outdoors.
Braden had enthusiasm for life and took pleasure in everything. He especially enjoyed holidays and birthdays. Last Halloween, he was excited to be the Transformer Bumble Bee. He celebrated his 5th birthday last month with a family dinner party complete with birthday cake, candles and presents. He had a wonderful time surrounded by so many on whom he could shower his affection.
Orange was Braden’s favorite color. Anything that was orange was his, or it should have been, according toBraden. He saved the orange blocks for the tallest of his skyscrapers.
Braden was a vehicle boy. He loved cars and trucks and trains. At school, one of his favorite things was the trains. He ran the tracks from the block area to the hallway, as long as he could make it, and then run as many trains on it as he could.
It was obvious that Braden loved his grandparents. At the end of each preschool day, he would look out the window to wait for his Grandma to pick him up, telling everyone how much fun he had with them and how much he loved them. He just leapt into her waiting arms.
He had a heart of gold, always wanting to show affection. Braden liked to hold his teacher’s hand and not let go. He was cuddly with his grandparents, aunts and cousins. Teachers, class mates and even first-time visitors to the house were showered with Braden’s hugs and “I love you’s.” And always there was that big beautiful smile on a face so like his mother’s.
Braden was welcomed into the arms of his waiting mother and their Heavenly Father on February 5, 2012. His little spirit lives on in the hearts of all who knew him.
Remembering Braden: memories from his YMCA pre-school teachers and parents
I am 29 years old and I graduated in 2000 from Rogers High School. I don’t remember Susan in school, but when I think of her disappearance and the thought that I could have had a class with her or a conversation with her, it deeply saddens me. I looked back at my high school year book and my picture was close hers; and her children’s father is the picture right next to Susan’s.
We have two children, both boys ages 5 and 7, the same age as Braden and Charlie. So when Braden entered our lives through YMCA Child Care, I immediately felt a connection, like he was suppose to be with us. We cared for Braden as if he was part of our family. He brought joy and happiness to all of us.
Candace and YMCA staff:
Braden had a heart of gold. He always came to class with a bright smile, and exciting stories to tell everyone.
Braden first came to our program in the summer, where we would go on field trips and do activities back at class. He always enjoyed being in school and around other children. Not a day went by that Braden didn’t walk into those doors with a smile on his face. He was such a warm-hearted child, always wanting to show affection.
He had the biggest imagination. Braden loved building whatever his mind could create with bright colored magnetic blocks, such as Legos, anything he could use to build. When he finished building something he loved showing his creations with everyone.
Braden had a contagious energy, the kind that exuded happiness and joy, making it impossible for us not to join him running around.
Braden had this game he loved to play with Miss Kristin in the gym. He would try to get Miss Candace, so Miss Kristin would protect her. Braden would taunt Miss Kristin to chase him. He always had a huge smile and always gave Miss Kristin that look like, “You gonna come get me?” If Kristin would pretend not to see him, he would yell,” Hey! Come chase me Miss Kristin!” He loved running and enjoyed trying to tag Miss Candace while he and Kristin played cat and mouse.
His loving personality kept him close to others, playing with friends on the train tracks, and always making sure he sat next to Miss Candace for snack time.
It was so obvious that Braden loved his grandparents. He would look out the window to wait for his grandma to pick him up, telling everyone how much fun he had with them and how much he loved them.
Braden always showed such excitement and joy in everything he did. He was the most adorable bumble bee for Halloween, and he was so excited for our trick-or-treat parade.
At Pre-K, we do meals family-style, which means the kids help pass food out. Braden always made sure everyone had enough to eat and got what they needed. He was polite and considerate to his classmates every day.
Braden was a boy full of stories. He loved to tell everyone stories of things he has done, his favorite things, or just talk because he loved to share with everyone.
There was such an affectionate, playful part of Braden. He always wanted to hold hands at circle time with Miss Candace. He loved helping the other kids in class and the teachers with setting up activities.
Braden left class every day with a bright smile and always made sure to give good-bye hugs to everyone before he left. He was full of energy, love, respect, and kindness, and always told the teachers that he loved them.
Braden loved bright colors, especially orange. When Braden used the light table, he always used the orange magnetic blocks when building the tallest skyscrapers.
Braden would sit next to me and curl up on my shoulder when he was tired during circle time. He was so affectionate, he would hold my hand and not want to let go.
When he wanted quiet time he would hide under the tables. The only way to get him out was to mention food.
He loved playing with trains. He ran tracks from the block area to the hallway, as long as he could make them, and run as many trains on them as he could.
Braden had endless amounts of energy. We played “red light, green light” a lot, and he would trip and fall when I yelled “yellow.” But he always got right back up and told me he was okay.
February 12, 2012, The Mountain News
Thank you for the great article Bruce. Though I only knew of Charlie through my daughter, Tammy and had never known Braden I felt like I knew them well after reading this article and watching the funeral. They were remarkable boys that will live on in the minds of thousands of people around the world thanks to the relatives, teachers and friends who were couageous enough to allow us to know them second hand even though their hearts were breaking. All are in my thoughts and prayers.
Thank you so much that was great. I will miss the boys very much even if i did not know them i love the cox family and joshs sister and her husband prayers are for you guys.