A standing-room-only crowd of nearly 400 people — friends, family and the local skateboarding community — gathered early Sunday evening to remember the life of Casey Jay Heath, 32, the fun-loving Olympia man and expert skateboarder who was killed earlier this month at McCoy’s Tavern.
The gathering downtown at Olympia Ballroom, though, spent little time on the subject of his tragic death. Most of the time was spent celebrating his life.
There was food, music, a video and moving tributes from friends and family that, at times, had everyone laughing and cheering, as well as crying and in pain.
“I can’t take any more tragedy,” one family member cried out during the memorial.
“Be strong, grandma,” speaker Kaplan Bunce replied to that voice in the audience.
Bunce, a friend of Heath and Heath’s family, spoke throughout the memorial and introduced other speakers, too, but he also shared his thoughts about Heath.
“Wherever he went, he shined, he was golden,” Bunce recalled, adding that when you spent time with Heath, “you were lifted.”
“He lifted us all up, yeah?” Bunce asked the audience. Everyone replied, “Yeah!”
More than one speaker commented on the number of lives Heath had touched and the number of people at the memorial.
Guests quickly filled the 275 chairs that had been set out for the gathering. Others stood and lined the walls.
“We knew he had friends, but we really had no idea he had touched so many lives,” said Heath’s uncle, Randy, during his remarks.
Randy Heath also remembered Casey Heath as a fervent skateboarder and early supporter of the skateboarding area at Yauger Park in West Olympia.
“Everytime I go by it, I think of him,” he told the audience. “We’re really going to miss him.”
In addition to skateboarding, Heath also loved to travel. He worked at Falls Terrace Restaurant and at Olympia Glass.
Mark Bowen, another longtime friend, said Heath was kind, caring, loyal and lived his life drama-free.
“He was what you are supposed to be,” Bowen said.
Bowen said that when Heath died the whole city shook. He asked everyone to take back the violence that took Heath’s life.
Heath died after he was stabbed multiple times on McCoy’s smoking patio about 1:30 a.m. Dec. 4. A suspect, David M. Henkleman, 34, was chased from the bar and arrested by police. He is charged with one count of second-degree murder.
Katie Meyer, Heath’s girlfriend, spoke last, following a video that showed Heath’s early childhood as well as some of his high-flying skateboard moves. The video had people in the audience laughing and cheering, but Meyer’s remarks were pure, heartfelt emotion that quieted the audience and reduced everyone to tears.
“I feel as though my heart is gone,” she told the audience. “Casey has my heart, and I want him to keep it.”
Although the town and the community will never be the same, she said, Heath wouldn’t see it that way, telling everyone to “cool out, and put your ‘sorrys’ in a sack, the biggest sack ever.”
She ended with a message for Heath.
“Sleep in as long as you want, love. I will always love you forever.”Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/bizblog @rolf_boone