Hereford mourns loss of student Jay Stovall

by Haley Gilmore, Claire Hunt, & Genevieve Ott

Jonathon Joseph “Tex” Stovall (12), often called “Jay,” an accomplished football player from Hampstead, died suddenly September 26th at age 18. Visitations are arranged for Saturday, September 29th, at Evans Funeral Chapel from 2-4 and 6-8 pm. There will also be a visitation 3-5 pm Sunday, September 30th, at Gunpowder Baptist Church with a service at 5 pm. Students, teammates, friends, and faculty are encouraged to attend and may wear team jerseys or Hereford colors in support of Jay’s love for football and basketball.

Many Hereford students and faculty would describe Jay as a chivalrous, friendly, warm person who would go out of his way to do kind things for others. Originally from Texas, Jay, who moved to Hereford in 2009, exhibited Southern hospitality and manners. “He was always polite and a gentleman; he held the door open for people and never cussed,” said Jon Chalker (12), who played football with Jay.

While he was known to many as a caring, warm person, he was less gentle as an athlete. “Tex…was a force to be reckoned with. He was strong, explosive, and fearless [on the football field],” stated Jay’s football coach, Steven Turnbaugh. “His sudden passing has left a huge void in all of us in the football program.”

Jay will certainly be leaving an impression on faculty members who knew him as student, as well. “Jay was incredibly friendly; he always had a smile to share. He was so polite and would do anything asked of him,” stated Melinda Campbell, a science teacher. “I truly enjoyed having Jay in my class and will miss seeing him in the halls.”

Jay’s English teacher, Michelle Stachura, shared a similar view of his classroom character. She stated, “Jon was a quiet gentleman who was so polite that he still said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’”

His eleventh grade astronomy teacher, Barbara Willette, saw this same spirit. “He was so pleasant and polite! Jay was easy to like,” she stated.

A clear testament to his Southern charm, Jay inspired smiles. Justin McCain (12), a close friend of Jay’s, called him a “goofball” and “his Weight Training Buddy” and said, “He was such a cool person… he kept me smiling.”

Jay had been planning to join the military after high school, according to Erin Czan, Jay’s Paramedical Biology teacher. “He seemed very honored and proud about it,” stated Mrs. Czan, who also noted that he would be following in the footsteps of his father and brother.

Hereford citizens flocked to social media to express their grief and condolences. “You can never fully understand why bad things happen,” stated 2011 Hereford graduate Emily Meadowcroft on Facebook, alongside other students’ postings of sympathies.

Steve , a 2011 graduate and Jay’s brother, stated on Facebook, “To all of you he is known as Tex, to me he is Jonathon Joseph Stovall, my brother and my best friend.”

Reminding students to lean on one another during this tragedy, 2012 graduate Randi Bulkley stated, “[Hereford really treats] each other as a family even if we know them or not.”

Although his death has devastated many people at Hereford, students are left with fond memories of their classmate. Sandra Schenning (11) summarized Jay in a statement posted on Facebook: “[He] really did have a heart the size of Texas.”