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.