At 1:37 p.m. at UCI’s Gateway Plaza, family and friends of Jessica Lauren Hoke gathered in the hazy afternoon on Dec. 10, 2010 to remember an incredible life. Soft music played, cutting through the chill hanging in the afternoon. The morning haze still lingered in Aldrich Park. The sun shone through, making a translucent bronze curtain in the sky.
“I’d like to give thanks for a beautiful day,” said Jessica’s father Gary Hoke. “It’s gorgeous and appropriate. There’s so many people here … Put a smile on your face please, that’s what Jesse’s about. Couldn’t get her to cry at a movie if you’d tried.”
The sentiments were lightened that day as family and friends shared their memories of Jessica. It was a parting tinged with flecks of laughter among the tears of sadness and loss.
As he remembered his daughter’s life, Gary Hoke told a story about Jessica as a child. She told her uncle, David Hoke, “You don’t laugh much. Why don’t you laugh?”
“That really changed him,” Gary Hoke remembered.
It seems that Jessica’s infectious personality was able to gently slice through life, ever taking a new path, transforming the everyday monotony into an adventure. She loved to hike with friends, inevitably taking along her camera and snapping pictures. She was always promoting music and art and trying to bring people together.
“The dates that are on this [program 8.11.1987—12.3.2010], the little dash that’s between, she filled so much on that tiny dash,” Gary said. “She was always planning to do the next thing. She was a doer. We want to make sure that we honor Jessica by always smiling, rocking our own personal style and always planning for the next adventure.”
Jessica grew up in San Diego, and was from an early age exposed to music. Her father and uncle David were in a band together. In 1990, when Jessica was two and a half years old, her father wrote a song about her entitled “Perfect.”
“See the light in her eyes / Heart swollen, full of pride / Life move too fast to the present from the past / It’s a mystery and a blur to me / Please remember me … Drugs and death all around / No one seems to care / Somewhere inside ourselves / Screaming it’s not fair / But there’s an innocence fighting decadence / We’ve got to have faith … She’s so perfect.”
At UCI, Jessica studied literary journalism and hosted “The Exposure” radio program on KUCI in the winter and spring of 2010 on Friday afternoons. She wrote extensively about music on her Tumblr blog and for Downtown Incorporated.
On Wednesday, Nov. 30 at approximately 7:50 a.m., Jessica was standing at the corner of Sunflower Avenue and Stevens Avenue, just one block from South Coast Plaza where she was employed at H&M, when a 17-year-old driver going west on Sunflower ran a red light and collided with two cars. Jessica was struck by debris flying from the cars, suffering severe head injuries and was taken to Western Medical Center, where she passed away three days later surrounded by family and friends. Her organs were donated through the One Legacy transplant donor network, enabling Jessica to help at least five people.
“I want to say thanks to all the incredible support over the past few weeks,” said Gary. “As the parents you can tell a million stories. She felt no pain when she left … You gotta sum [up a person’s life] by the way they were complete.”
Last spring quarter Jessica posted a blog to her personal webpage for her radio show. “I am lazy.” is the title.
This particular entry reads: “I started this blog in the midst of midterms, so do not fret I will be blogging and at it again soon. I also started this at a time where all the oldies are coming back with new goodies. God damn, how many new albums can music fandom take? … Regardless I will prevail and I will be a tumbling. Tomorrow. Tonight even, this happy hour buzz may find me ambitious. For now here is a photo I took that has nothing to do with this post. But dammit I like it.”