Red Lion High golf team honors friend killed in crash
Jake Linn encouraged those around him, made them laugh and, when necessary, took them under his wing, according to his friends and family.
That generous spirit is why his former teammates on the Red Lion Area Senior High School golf team honored him earlier this month at a golf meet by speaking about his contributions and raising money for the college scholarship fund created in his name, according to Ryan McCleary, one of the team's two coaches.
The 18-year-old Windsor Township man was killed Jan. 10 when the car he was riding in crashed into a tree in the 900 block of Kendale Road in Windsor Township.
Also killed in the crash was 15-year-old Aislinn Wisniewski. The 17-year-old driver, whose name was not released by police, and a third passenger survived.
"Jake was a great kid — fun to be around," McCleary said. "He was always joking. He got along with everybody and made everybody laugh. He was the kid riding home in the van from golf matches, blaring the radio and singing along."
On Sept. 15, Red Lion's golf team and six other school golf teams had a meet at Pleasant Valley Golf Course, where Red Lion senior Ian Schaeffer spoke about Jake.
Ian told the roughly 57 golfers in attendance a bit about his friend Jake, about how he's missed by the team and about how the team wanted to do something to honor him, according to McCleary, who said Ian was a sophomore when Jake was a senior.
Team effort: Ian and two fellow senior golfers, Grant Fickes and Micah Osenbach, organized the event with help from other team members and their parents, McCleary said. All three youths are team co-captains this year.
They sold food and donated their $145 in proceeds to the Jacob Linn Memorial Scholarship Fund, the coach said. The fund is through the Red Lion Education Foundation.
"Jake was always encouraging the other players," McCleary said. "They basically wanted to honor a great young man ... and a great family."
Jake's mother, Tracy Linn, was moved by the students' gesture.
"It made me feel like we did something right (in raising Jake) — that they felt it important enough to honor Jake for the type of person he was," she said.
Linn, her husband Craig Linn, their 20-year-old daughter Kirstie Linn and other family members have already raised a substantial amount of money for Jake's scholarship fund.
In June, they held the first Jacob Linn Memorial Golf Outing and raised $14,000 for the fund, Tracy Linn said.
Scholarship fund: The scholarship provides $1,000 to a Red Lion student, and this year two students received that amount, she said.
"We're hoping that after this year we'll have enough in our fund to branch out and do some other things besides just contributing to the scholarship," Tracy Linn said.
"We also contributed money ($500) to Lebanon Valley College, and we'd like to do that every year."
Jake was a student at Lebanon Valley College when he was killed, and he had no trouble making friends there either, according to his mother.
"He always picked out the people who needed help socially and kind of took them under his wing," she said. "I think he picked out the kids who needed him to bring them together."
Jake started playing golf when he was about 6 years old, coached at that young age by his uncle, Jason Wood of Thomasville, his mother said.
"My brother saw right away that Jake was good," Tracy Linn said.
Camaraderie: But they had to push Jake to join Red Lion Senior High School's golf team.
"He never really wanted to play on the team because he didn't like to compete," she said, but after he joined he realized he loved the friendships and camaraderie, and reveled in helping younger players.
The Linn family and their friends continue to honor Jake's memory in other ways as well, she said.
A Nov. 21 bus trip to the Penn State vs. University of Michigan through Krouse Travel will benefit the scholarship fund, she said, and T-shirts have also been sold to raise money, including for the Lebanon Valley Fund.
Craig Linn is principal at Ferguson K-8 School, and staff there have remembered Jake by wearing memorial T-shirts, as have Jake's high school and college friends, Tracy Linn said.
Forever changed: She said her son always knew how to make her laugh, and that's one of the things she misses most about him.
Tracy Linn urged parents to talk with their children about safe driving, and to explain the "true consequences" of negligent and reckless driving.
"Our lives have been changed forever," she said. "We just want to stress to all parents (that they should) talk to their kids about safe driving. If you feel your child is not safe, absolutely do not let them ride in that car. It's much easier to have an upset teen for a couple hours than to attend their funeral."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.