Savage Strong Community Mourns Loss of One of its Own

Cale Jarmes emerges victorious from a dual this past season with Sigourney-Keota. Jarmes was a serious wrestler under the tutelage of his coaches which included his father Gary.

Friends and classmates came together to honor Cale to put up a memorial near the crash site. Pictured left to right, Back Row: Ian Trefehn, Thomas Stout, Bryce Waechter. Middle row: Ben House, Eric Meiners, Luke House. Front row: Anna Ohland and Allison Schroeder. Photo submitted. 


            There is no proper way to plan for tragedy in a community, no matter how small or how large. When the Sigourney community family learned of Cale Jarmes’passing, however, they rallied together to support one another, and no place better fits this scenario than Jarmes’former high school.

            Classmates, friends and community members went to classes on what was supposed to be a regular Monday at Sigourney Jr/Sr High. Prom is just around the corner, track season has just begun and ‘Senior-itis' is starting to kick in for the class of 2017. When Principal Shannon Webb called the class of 2019 to the gym to speak about something students were confused, as fortunately, social media had not informed the sophomore class that one of their own had passed away in a horrible car crash. After Webb related the news to her students, she went on to inform the rest of the school.

         “Losing a child or student is the hardest, most difficult thing that any of us have ever been through,”Webb said. “No one really knew anything from social media. It was important that they hear it from me. To be honest, telling them was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my 20 years of education.”

            As a terrible reality began to sink in, the healing began immediately. The Sigourney Community Schools administration met as a team to discuss how to handle the delicate situation for their students. Grief counselors from Great Prairie Area Education Association provided a listening ear for students. Local leaders from the Ministerial Association volunteered their time to be there for those who needed it. Area schools expressed their condolences and support, while Brothers Market and community members provided snacks, breakfast food, water, and tissues to the school. Students and faculty alike supported each other like the Savage family they are. Grief had reared its ugly head in the district before, and the faculty knew they had to be strong and come together.

         “First of all, you are never prepared for a situation like this,”Sigourney Superintendent Dave Harper said. “I was blown away by how Mrs. Webb, our teachers, our students and our community responded. When I first became superintendent here, I saw how tight-knit this community is, and I am proud of how they responded.”

            Visitation for Cale was held at the Sigourney United Methodist Church, where hundreds stood in line outside on a cold, wet Tuesday to pay their respects to a 15 year old young man that many described with a smile as “witty, funny and charming.”The Jarmes family has long had a deep connection with their church. The building was not large enough to accommodate the expected crowd for the funeral the next day, so instead, the service was held at Sigourney High’s gym, where Sigourney Savages were joined by Tri-County Trojans, Keota Eagles and other surrounding communities to pay their respects to a young man gone too soon.

         “We knew that this would probably have to be held here and it would be a hard decision for Jaci and Gary (Jarmes),”Webb said. “They have very strong faith and they love their church, but in the end it had to be here because of space. A lot of things that Cale was involved in happened at this gym and it was a good place to have it. It was an amazing service.”

            The healing continues today, as help is still readily available to the student body. Meanwhile, Cale’s brother, Casey, has been moved out of the ICU at the University of Iowa and continues to recover. The school has  held morning prayers in support of Casey and his family as they go through this difficult time.

         “This community has been great; amazing, actually,”Webb said. “I just feel blessed to be part of a district like this that comes together in a time of tragedy. We continue to pray for Casey until he’s back. He’s going to need all the support we can give him. The Jarmes family is a great family. They would do anything to help anyone, so we knew it was our turn to step up for them.”

            Cale’s memory is kept alive by the stories and memories of his family, friends, and teachers, some of whom wished to share their stories with the community.

            Luke House- “Cale was the funniest kid that I ever met. He could make anyone laugh at any time. People had trouble taking him seriously. I think the only time I ever saw him be really serious was during sports.”

            Spencer Magill-“Cale was always a good friend to everybody and always wanted to make people laugh. He really knew how to push your buttons, when to make you mad, but also knew when to stop. He was happy all the time and wanted to make other people laugh. That was basically his main goal.”

            Thomas Stout-“Some of our greatest memories that we had with Cale was just coming over and hanging out at my house. One of the things that I really remember about Cale is that he had a really strong faith in God. There were some nights that we’d stay up really late and just have really deep conversations about the world and God. He knew a lot of different stuff about God and religion, which is pretty cool.”

            Bryce Waechter-“My favorite memories of Cale would be staying up all night and going on McDonald’s runs, playing basketball, listening to music, which was one of his favorite things to do. We shared the same interest in music. He was such an energetic kid and always outgoing and happy. I just remember watching at wrestling meets. He was always so passionate about sports and he had the greatest laugh and would it would make your laugh. He had a nice smile.”

            Maddie Schwenke-“I’ve grown up with Cale my whole life through the church and with everything. Let’s just say that he had no filter. One of my favorite memories with Cale was probably when driving my car around every now and then. I’d hand him my phone to play music and he would always comment on how like cool or dope or dank my playlists were. It came to the point where instead of calling me just “Schenk”, he’d be like ‘I’m going to start calling you Dank Schwank’. Just having all the memories with Cale, it feels good to have those and keep those memories forever.”

            Jesse Fritz-“My favorite memories with Cale were during wrestling season because that’s when I would really got to know him. We’d wrestle together and every once in awhile as partners. I’d always take it easy on him. His dad would always tell him to pick it up, and he’d look at his dad and give him a look like ‘don’t mess with me’. He liked to fight with almost everyone. When we’d hang out, it would always been fun because he’d always have his songs. He had got a new speaker for Christmas and ran around with it all time. It was just great hanging around him and he was one of my best friends. I really got to know him this whole last year and gotten really close to him.”

            Donita Clarahan-“I was probably one of Cale’s unique teachers that was able to take him as he was and go with it. I think it was often a competition on how long it would take for me to threaten to send him to the hallway or tell him to shut his lip. He gave a little bit of himself to everything. He was so willing to try everything and as all the students mentioned, he wanted to make you laugh. He wanted to make you feel special, make you feel part of the group. He will be missed for all of his uniqueness. Just a great kid and we’ll always have a part of him.

            Nick Goad-“The summer before 8th grade, Ian, Cale, Mac, and I all went to Lost Island Water Park in Waterloo. We decided we wanted to go down one of the slides that has the very large tubes, that can hold like six people. So we all four fit into the tube, and we started going down the slide. Cale, being who he was, wanted to "spice things up a little". So instead of sitting down during the ride, he stood up and acted like he was surfing. The 4 of us were laughing the whole way down.

            When we got to the bottom, obviously the lifeguards were not very happy. They made us sit in "timeout" for about 15 minutes before they finally let us go. They told us that if we did it again, we would be kicked out of the water park. Mac, Ian, and I were not very happy at the time, because we did nothing wrong. But looking back on it, it was pretty hilarious.

            You could always count on Cale to make things much more memorable.”

            Throughout the tragedy that has impacted two families-the Jarmes family and the Snakenberg family-the power of faith has guided them through these time. During a period of loss, the Sigourney community responded with love, guidance and strength. After all, Sigourney is “Savage Strong.”