Wednesday , July 30, 2014 - 5:30 PM
Friends of Daulton Whatcott carry his casket after a funeral for Daulton and Jaxon at Syracuse High School in Syracuse on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Daulton Rey Whatcott and his brother Jaxon McKee Whatcott did on July 20, 2014 near Littlefield, AZ in a tragic plane accident. (KERA WILLIAMS/ Special to the Standard Examiner)
SYRACUSE -- The Whatcott family and their friends have spent countless hours inside Syracuse High School’s gym over the past four years cheering Daulton and Jaxon Whatcott at basketball games.
But on Wednesday, almost 1,000 people sat on bleachers and folding chairs that filled the gym for a 3-hour service to honor and celebrate the lives of the two Clinton brothers who died on July 20 in a plane crash. The small, single-engine 1960 Cessna that Daulton Whatcott, 19, was piloting went down just a short distance from the Virgin River Gorge. The brothers were headed to Las Vegas for a competitive league basketball tournament for Jaxon, 16.
"We don’t want their jerseys to retire,“ said Rhett Whatcott, their father. ”We want kids to remember how they loved. We’ve heard so many beautiful stories about how they loved others.“
Rhett Whatcott went on to say he and their mother, Eileen Whatcott, had ”been so blessed to have them for the years we had them.“
He said when Daulton would come home, he always asked where his younger brother was and when Jaxon came home he always asked where Daulton was.
Rhett Whatcott had called Daulton before he flew out of Beaver airport and asked him if they were going to continue to fly to Las Vegas. He said Daulton assured him, ”We’re fine.“
He told the crowd, ”I know it’s silly, but we know they’re fine.“
Rhett Whatcott said, ”Give your kids hugs even if they don’t want you to. And you kids, give your parents hugs. We do need it.“
The Whatcotts said they have no regrets when it comes to their sons’ lives, but do regret the milestones they hoped to have: like senior prom, senior night, graduation, moving out, moving back in, weddings and grandchildren.
Many of the mourners wore blue and green, the school’s colors, besides the traditional black in honor of the Whatcott brothers, who were members of Syracuse High School’s basketball team.
Those in attendance were comforted through words and songs.
Syracuse High School Assistant Principal Kellie Mudrow said before the services began, “The Titan community and the Whatcott family has suffered a a great loss.” Her son is a friend of the Whatcott family.
Besides being good athletes, the two brothers had a knack of making everyone they met feel like they were best friends, family and friends said.
Ron Fawcett, an uncle, spoke at the services about Daulton, who received his pilot license in May and wanted a career in the airline industry. He said his nephew was very competitive in everything he did.
"Daulton could not abide losing,“ Fawcett said.
Daulton also liked taking his younger brother, Jaxon, with him and also both would spend hours playing games of 21, a basketball game, against each other.
Many of Daulton’s friends, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have left on missions, and Daulton wrote to each one of them every week, Fawcett said.
Grandfather Jeff Whatcott talked about Jaxon. He said his grandson could fall asleep just about anywhere: on rocks, the patio, in the dog kennel, on the couch.
He said Jaxon’s parents thought when Jaxon was younger he did not like sports. They had to talk him into playing T-ball, soccer, football and basketball.
"He fell in love with football,” Jeff Whatcott said.
And when Jaxon started playing basketball, that is when he found “his true athletic love,” Jeff Whatcott said.
Jaxon could make a 20-minute lawn mowing job turn into a two-hour job because after he mowed around the backyard once, he would shoot some hoops, then mow around the lawn again.
Eric Olsen, a family friend, said he is certain Jesus met both brothers when they arrived in Heaven. But he also said he is sure the two decided it was time to play a game of 21.
That night there was a thunderstorm and Olsen said he is sure it was Daulton and Jaxon playing basketball.
"Every lightning strike was Jaxon scoring and every time it thundered it was Daulton,“ Olsen said.
Daulton and Jaxon are survived by their parents, an older brother, Dace; a younger sister, Aubri; and many extended family members.
Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SELorettaPark.