Gilmer Student Remembered - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/31/07-Longview

Gilmer Student Remembered

The community of Gilmer is mourning the loss of a native son who was a source of inspiration to young and old alike.  A young man who lost his battle to leukemia, but won the hearts of everyone in a small east Texas town.

The Buckeye pep rally took on a profound meaning today, not so much about a football game as it was about a young man who had come to be the schools unofficial mascot. 18 year old Gilmer High School student Josh Nelson died yesterday after a long battle against leukemia.

"Basically I was just in shock.   I couldn't believe it.  A few minutes afterwards I kind of just broke down in the hall," said school friend Ben Turner.

The Nelson name inspired the Buckeye motto, "Son of a Champion". 

Josh was a member of the 2004 state championship team. After his illness, he often appeared on the sidelines with the team at Gilmer games and was source of inspiration to students and teachers alike.

"He was an unbelievable student and unbelievable person.  To have that much courage ...  there's not a lot of adults that have that much courage," said school counselor Crata Jordan.

"He was like a big brother to me, he was a part of our family" said classmate Kylie Burns.

"He never complained.  He never said 'I don't feel like doing this.  I'm tired'.  He was so positive and upbeat.  He was a fighter," said Josh's teacher Caroline Williams.

Many remember his tenacious battle against leukemia, and how he was insistent that he would recover. It was a battle shared by his family in more ways than one. Fourth months after Josh's diagnosis with leukemia, his mother died of the same disease.

Everywhere on the campus today, students and teachers were wearing the a jersey in honor of Josh.

"It hasn't set in yet.  Like he's not here, but the legacy that he left behind, the emotion that he left for us to build upon, has been the greatest experience," said Burns.

"He battled so long and so hard with his disease and he overcame so many obstacles," said Gilmer High School principal Gary Whitwell.  "They miss their friend.  Their saddened by his death, but I think they're determined to make his death mean something" 

They celebrate his life with a simple thought:  Whenever life gets tough and you feel sorry for yourself, remember Josh Nelson, who took what life gave him and never looked back.

A bone marrow drive will take place September 8th from 9:30 am till 3 pm at the Fellowship Hall at the First Baptist Church in Gilmer, in memory of Josh Nelson.  

Bob Hallmark bhallmark@kltv.com.

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