David “Jake” Preston

Graveside services for David “Jake” Preston, 49, of Lawrence will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, September 5, 2020 at Memorial Park Cemetery in Lawrence, KS. Family and friends are welcome to attend in person or while listening to the service from their vehicles on the radio station 89.7 FM provided by Warren McElwain Mortuary. Please be aware that due to COVID-19 and safety precautions, we are asking people to respect and comply with social distancing and must wear a mask. Jake peacefully entered Heaven on Saturday, August 29, 2020 while at home with his beloved wife Stephanie.

Jake was born on March 8, 1971 in Loveland, Colorado, the son of David and Joan (Burns) Preston. He was a happy child, kind and generous, and always smiling. He loved the great Colorado outdoors – camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing. He was also a white-water rafting guide. Jake played football, and was a competitive swimmer throughout his school years. After graduating from Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO in 1989, Jake attended Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City, OK.

At the young age of 19, Jake survived a life-altering diving accident that forever changed his life.

While managing an aquatic center in Edmond, OK Jake dove into a familiar pool – something he’d done thousands of times. Unfortunately, on that day, he had too much inertia behind the dive. He dove in a healthy, vibrant, young man. He surfaced the water with a broken neck, which resulted in a spinal cord injury. In a blink of an eye, he became a quadriplegic.

Jake was raised by parents who taught their children to never give up. That upbringing, combined with Jake’s incredible faith in God, carried him through the never-ending physical, emotional and mental challenges he faced every single day.

One year to the date of the accident, Jake returned to Oklahoma Christian University where he not only earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Bible, he met the love of his life; Stephanie Bolton Preston. Jake always said, “She looked past the wheels and saw the man.”

Their beautiful love affair began on August 14, 1993. They recently celebrated their twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. With his bride by his side, Jake continued his schooling. He worked full-time while earning his masters and completing his doctoral coursework in Higher Education Administration. While adapting to his immobility, and unable to physically do much of what he loved to do, Jake concentrated on his education and career. He mastered them well. His career path allowed him to work for several universities; Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma State University, University of Wisconsin-Stout, and the University of Kansas.

Jake’s love of people poured out in his career. He had a gift of working with college and university level students. Students of all walks of life admired and respected Jake. He was a living example of ‘never, ever give up.’ He made a huge, positive impact on everyone he met.

In spite of Jake’s physical limitations, he loved life. He loved to spend time with family. He and Stephanie traveled together, taking long road trips across the country to be with family. He loved watching sports, especially Big 12 football, and college basketball. He also loved music – mostly contemporary Christian rock music. He and Stephanie attended as many live concerts as they possibly could, meeting some of today’s most popular Christian artists. People were always drawn to Jake. He radiated a light that attracted people, no matter where he was.

His whole life, Jake loved animals – especially dogs. There was never a time he didn’t have a faithful dog or two as his loyal companion. He and Stephanie loved and doted on their beloved four-legged, furry kids beyond measure. Like people, dogs too were always drawn to Jake and his kind, gentle spirit.

A dear friend of Jakes once asked him, “Jake, what do you miss the most? If you could do it again, what would it be?” Jake didn’t hesitate with his reply, “I’d love to be in the woods, hunting.” Jake’s best friend John created a way for that to happen. With a little time, and creative thinking, John made a way. Soon, Jake was not only back in the woods, in a specially designed stand for his limited ability, he was hunting! With the loving support of a dear friend, Jake was able to safely hunt, even killing some big game animals. Jake loved his time in the woods.

Although Jake’s life was filled with constant physical struggles and setbacks, he lived life to the fullest with the support of his precious wife Stephanie who never left his side, and his family and dear friends.

Jake loved Jesus with his whole heart. He lovingly served his home church; Church of Christ in Lawrence, KS.

Survivors include his wife, Stephanie, siblings; Shane (Judy) Preston, Sheila Preston Fitzgerald, Amanda (Josh) Powell, nieces; Rebekah Preston, Charleigh Powell, Jorgia Powell, nephew, Caleb Preston, and god daughters; Morgan and Ashley Sponholtz. Jake was preceded in death by his parents.

Jake’s body will be lying in state from 10:00 a.m. ~ 4:00 p.m., Friday, September 4, 2020 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044. Please be aware that due to COVID-19 and safety precautions, we are asking people to respect and comply with social distancing and must wear a mask.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or Harvesters Community Food Network and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

9 Condolences

  1. Ron and Lynn Lauterbach on September 1, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    The Lauterbach family sends our love to all of you. We knew Jake during his growing up years in Loveland. He was in the youth group during the times we were there and we got to know him through those experiences. He was always a great guy and good person. His life became an inspiration to many. Please know we send our love to his wife and all of you Preston kids whom we knew. We are sure you all honor your parents well in your love for the Lord and each other. God’s blessings until we all meet again. Ron and Lynn Lauterbach

  2. Shari and Glenn Quick on September 2, 2020 at 7:59 am

    Jake was an amazing man. I will miss seeing his smiling face. He was always positive even during his biggest struggles. May he Rest In Peace and may God give comfort to his loved ones.

  3. Oklahoma Christian University on September 2, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Stephanie and family, please know that your Oklahoma Christian University family is thinking of you and we join in the celebration of Jake’s spirit for life! We were blessed that he was an alumnus of OC and employee as well. May the Lord be your strength!

    Oklahoma Christian University

  4. Linda Quinalty & Angela Grubb on September 2, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    My daughter and I met Jake in Tulsa, Oklahoma during a Teens Take America program. We hitched a ride on their bus and got to know many of them there but Jake was one of the standouts with his big smile and he is well remembered by us both. Jake had a wonderful spirit and the love of God and our condolences go out to his wife and family… God bless you all!

  5. Chris Johnson on September 3, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    I was sorry to read about Jake’s death. I worked with Jake at the KU Office of Student Financial Aid back when he was a grad student in Higher Ed. I remember him as an effective counselor who took a special interest in those students who were struggling with academic progress while dealing at the same time with financial stress. He touched us all with his determination to do his job well while dealing with his own challenges. I saw him a few times over the years and enjoyed talking with him. May he rest in peace.

  6. Scott on September 3, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Jake had the biggest heart! I look back now and realize what a special person he was. He did not complain… but instead smiled and loved the people around him. He would do anything to live in the moment and enjoy whatever came his way. I knew him as “Tank” and remember time we shared together as kids. He was lively, funny and somewhat mischievous. We would laugh together and in time grew to be friends. Even though we went separate ways; Jake was always a thought away. He was that special. What an incredible person. Love you Jake and Stephanie!

  7. Laura Teghtmeyer on September 3, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    What a beautiful and inspiring life lived for Christ.
    May God comfort Stephanie and the rest of Jake’s family both physical and spiritual.
    He has now overcome and is complete in glory-praise God!
    Randy and Laura Teghtmeyer
    Smart Road church of Christ

  8. Kylee Johnston on September 4, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    I will miss Jake, and I’m so sorry for your loss, Stephanie. You are in my prayers daily. You and Jake were great examples to me.

  9. Janie Krull on September 13, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    I was so sorry to hear of Jake’s passing. He was such a special part of Morgan and Ashley’s life. You and your family are in my prayers.

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