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Death takes Hood River teen who served others

June 15, 2011

The art that Forest Andrews so loved will surround him as he is laid to rest.

Friends will paint the casket bearing Forest, 18, who died on Friday in a skateboarding accident.

"It's a tribute, to somehow recognize somebody's life this way," said Jesse Larvick, a friend and mentor to Forest.

"It's one of those sweet things, going back to his artistic roots; his casket will be as plain as can be, and his friends will paint it," Larvick said.

"He had such good friends and they all knew he was an artist and musician, and for them to try to paint something he'll be laid to rest in is powerful for them."

Forest died Friday just before 2 p.m. on a steep street in downtown Hood River while riding his longboard (see page A10 for related story).

The tragedy is the believed to be the first involving a pedestrian in 11 years in the city of Hood River.

Forest's name appears on page B14 among those Hood River Valley High School students recognized for their art work. Forest painted, took photographs, played the drums and was active in his church. His long-term plans involved attending art school, said Larvick, formerly youth pastor at Hood River Alliance Church, which Forest attended with his family.

"He was always smiling. He was a sweet guy, not a mean bone in his body; someone who helped others and wanted to go on helping others," Larvick said.

"He had a big heart," Larvick said. "He wanted to serve people and do something outside of himself.

"This whole past year, he gave his time every week volunteering with the middle school group," Larvick said, noting he was "a huge help" to youth pastor Catherine Davis.

Forest and his sister, Ahnauna, were planning to go to Thailand this month on an Alliance youth mission trip (details below).

Forest's death stunned the Hood River community and draped a somber mood over Friday's high school graduation.

Andrews would have received his diploma with 285 of his classmates and then headed to Thailand on the church youth mission.

Forest is the son of Mike and Erin Andrews of Parkdale. A celebration of Forest's life is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday at Hood River Alliance Church, where Forest regularly helped his father and others work the sound system for worships and events.

On Wednesday, from 6-8 p.m., a viewing is planned for friends and youth group members at White Salmon's Gardner Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements. (A full obituary is planned for a future Hood River News.)

A long moment of silence was held for Forest in the HRVHS commencement ceremony Friday. Forest's friend Sam Lee carried a longboard bearing Forest's photo, and students placed flowers by the longboard during the ceremony.

(See page B1 Kaleidoscope for a photo and more coverage.)

Larvick said Forest "was always happy," and he and family members see his smile in every photo.

"We've been going through all the family photos in preparation for the service and it's therapeutic in a way; you go through them and every single one of them he's smiling."

Larvick said "time spent together" is proving the best possible therapy for friends and family who are dealing with the loss.

"The house is consistently full of people, and that's the way they love it right now. There really aren't (any words to say); to me it's senseless," Larvick said of Forest's death. "None of it takes away the loss.

"In terms of what's being said to his friends, it's mainly just watching them band together, spending time in his bedroom," Larvick said. "His friends have been sleeping in his room. The kids are just being together; it's beautiful."

Larvick said Scripture is helping Mike and Erin at this time, and speaking as a close family friend, he admired the quality of their quiet grieving.

"Really, it's just spending time, enjoying his memory; definitely spiritually for us, his Dad has been clinging to the scripture of Jesus Christ, hanging on the cross next to a thief, and he tells him, 'I promise you today you'll be with me in paradise.' That's been comforting for the family.

"They are a sight to behold; they've been really great."

Forest and his sister, Ahnauna, were raising the $2,000 they would each need for a mission trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. They planned to leave June 22 for the two-week trip.

Forest and Ahnauna wrote in a fundraising letter this month "We will be with a team of 24, helping to build an orphanage for girls who are at high risk for being sold into the sex trade in Thailand.

"We will be working with an organization called Remember Nhu.

"We are so excited to have this chance to go to Thailand and help provide a safe place for these young girls. We are sure our lives will also be changed in the process; it is so easy to forget how privileged we are here at home. It is also easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget the struggles that many people have to deal with every day."

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