JT was born March 4 th , 2002 in Milwaukee WI. We have nothing but profound gratitude and sincere love for JT’s birth family. JT was almost 8-months old when a social worker brought a beautiful little baby, with hair taller than his body, into the arms and souls of his adoptive family.
We have tried writing out a summary of his 20-years in so many different ways; none of it is right. It is truly beyond comprehension how JT has made such a dramatic impact on so many. He traveled a lot, experienced more than a lot of people, accomplished great feats for a guy with down syndrome, sensory issues and limited communication skills. More than anything he accomplished, it was what he gave that will be remembered and sorely missed.
JT had a gift. What he gave every individual person was different. He helped fill up the dark spots that people try to hide and not talk about. He had few words but his presence was powerful. One way he would call you in is by patting his leg, or a spot near him. The little pat meant “come to me” and he had you for the next bit of time. He was going to make you laugh, or boss you around, or just sit peacefully and rub your fingers. It was enough to change the momentum in your head to ground you again to what was important - spending time and making connections. He cherished the routines and rituals he had with everyone.
JT was an eclectic guy. He enjoyed watching Moana, Ferris Bueller and Kevin Hart. If you laughed at something he said or did, it became a joke forever. He was drawn to water and the relationships water created. His favorites were spending time with people he loved boating, swimming, and traveling; spending time at the cabin and especially at “the beach”. JT was well known for his love of ketchup and McDonalds. At least one of his “guys” was near, usually Woody. He was super polite “no thank you” was often a reply to a request for him to complete some work. He was an expert snuggler and looked forward to cousin camp shenanigans.
JT could also be a little stubborn, he was often a curmudgeon, and could use cuss words appropriately in inappropriate situations. However, he was true of heart. Said what he felt and with emotion to match, showed love and affection without perimeters, and gave light to the dark spots.
JT and his family spent his early years on a hobby farm in Boyceville WI. He was baptized at Trinity Lutheran. In 2006 the family moved to Georgetown KY. JT rode horses at the Kentucky Horse Park, attended Sunday School at Gethsemane Lutheran and began elementary school.
In 2011 the family moved to Hutchinson MN. JT finished middle school, was confirmed at Christ the King, and made a ton of friends. In 2017 the family moved to Stillwater MN. JT finished high school, and would have graduated from the Bridge transition program this spring. He was an active member of the St. Croix Valley Lumberjacks Special Olympic team.
On Nov 12 th 2022, JT was called to Jesus for an eternal walk on the beach. We are saddened beyond our ability to comprehend as his diagnosis of kidney failure on Nov 4 th 2022 was something that no one was expecting. Our deepest gratitude to Lakeview Hospice that allowed us to care for JT comfortably at home.
JT will be missed by many but especially by JT’s “Dave” and “Dawn”, Dad and Mom. His Brother Cory, Sister Grace Rogness and Brother-in-Law Chase Rogness. JT’s Gram Judy Pronger and Grandma Judy Martinson. Auntie Ann Mitchell, Auntie Amy and Uncle Dan Owl, Auntie Angie (Tim) Zacharias, Uncle Brad Voit, Uncle Chris (Rachel) Carls. Cousins: Charlie (Ciara and Baby Henley) Voit, Sam and Jack Voit, Brett, Blake and Mallory Carls, and Kayla (Nathan) Owl. JT loved his Anna (Daniel) Burriss and Kaitlyn Owen. JT had the love and support of more friends, family and fans than we ever imagined and for that we will be forever grateful.
Our hearts are broken and we will forever miss our little bubba.
The celebration of life is a beach theme in remembrance of JTs favorite thing to do. Feel free to wear your favorite beach shirt.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial scholarship fund is being established in memory of JT. Many details are being worked out, but we know the focus of the scholarships will be toward high school seniors intending to pursue a career working with people with special needs. JT’s life was made whole through the love, support and dedication from all the professionals who helped him excel over the years and we look forward to helping young people get started in this important field. For now, any donations can be made to David and Dawn Mitchell.