Jeffery Jorgen Kraft, 20, of Ponoka was a young man that was caring, funny, generous and “stubborn as heck,” as well as a loving uncle, according to his sister Caitlin Kraft.
“He was a very good uncle,” said Caitlin, adding he always made a point of spending time with them while he was home from work, even if it was just to be there when she picked up the kids.
“My kids adored him.”
It wasn’t unusual for him to take them out to play mini golf or to have a water fight with them when the weather was hot, either.
Jeff passed away in Lacombe on Dec. 15 after suffering a gunshot wound.
He was a well tester and was often away at work for long stretches, living with his father, Allen Kraft, in Ponoka when he was off.
“He tried to make time for everyone on his short visits,” said Caitlin, remembering how he liked to spend time with his family and friends.
“He was a well-liked person.”
During his life, Jeff was a hockey fan and played soccer in Ponoka in his younger years. He enjoyed skating and bowling, and was a serious soap box derby competitor, travelling all over the province to compete.
He won first place in the Ponoka Downhill Derby in September, 2009 and was named “King of the Hill.”
Allen also recalls he was given a mock speeding ticket for his fast time coming down the hill.
Jeff also enjoyed fishing, camping, hunting with his brother-in-law Brady for deer, grouse or coyotes, and travelling.
“He pretty much saw the world,” said Allen, adding Jeff had been to the Northwest Territories, Mexico and different places in the United States.
His grandparents and mother Carrie used to take him on trips up north, and he went to Disneyland and Disney World as a child.
Jeff was born in Red Deer and the family lived in Oyen, Alberta for the first few years of his life, before returning to Ponoka, where they had lived some years before.
He was into all kinds of machinery as a child, recalls Caitlin.
While they lived in Oyen, his parents would take Jeff to watch the town crew at work in their track hoes and loaders.
“They wouldn’t start until he showed up,” said Allen.
He enjoyed math — something Allen says Jeff got from him. He enjoyed it so much in fact, that quizzing his mother about multiplication equations was one of his favourite road trip games.
He attended St. Augustine School and graduated from the Ponoka Outreach School (now the Brick Learning Centre) at the age of 17.
Jeff was up for a promotion to night-time supervisor come March, says Allen.
He would have been 21-years-old on Jan. 13 and Allen had planned to surprise him with a ticket to Las Vegas.
A funeral service held at the Ponoka Funeral Home on Jan. 3 was very well attended, with family, friends, some former teachers and even a soccer coach coming to pay their respects.
“Jeff is deeply missed by his family and forever loved,” said Caitlin.