By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Joel Wilkey, youth pastor at Life Church, said just a week before Cade Poulos died he answered an altar call during a youth group and accepted Jesus as his savior.
“Cade said yes to Jesus,” Wilkey said. “His soul is very much alive. He is in eternity right now.”
Wilkey was one of many people who spoke about Poulos during a funeral service Tuesday at LifeChurch. The service was six days after the 13-year-old eighth-grader died as a result of a single gunshot to the head in a hallway at Stillwater Junior High School.
Many of Poulos’ classmates attended the service and sat in a large group in the sanctuary of the church.
Wilkey gestured toward the closed, white coffin and said while Poulos’ physical life has ended, his spirit is alive.
“Cade would say that you got to believe that life after death is real,” said Wilkey, turning and addressing the students. “It’s OK to mourn. And it’s OK to remember the happy times too.”
Arkansas minister Charles Graham said Poulos loved the movies, then introduced a slide show presentation about a boy who played violin in the school orchestra, did Bill Cosby impersonations, loved tomatoes and was so proud of his curly red hair that he loved the nickname “Carrot Top.”
“We should call this ‘The Book of Cade,’ starring Cade John Poulos,” said Graham. “I think he’d like that.”
The presentation included photos of Poulos as a baby, swimming in a lake, standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, playing pool, playing on the playground, celebrating Christmas and playing the violin — each of the photos showed Poulos surrounded by smiling friends and family.
Several people spoke about Poulos, including Phyllis Brown, pastor of the Victory Christian Center of Stillwater.
“Cade expressed life,” she said.
Randy Wick, Cade’s uncle, said Poulos was an intelligent young man with a great sense of humor.
James Hilgesen, Cade’s grandfather, spoke with an emotion-filled voice about Poulos’ love of life.