Families mourn loss of two teens

Kelly Frantz about six months ago holding her beloved cat Bart.  - Photo courtesy of the Frantz family
Kelly Frantz about six months ago holding her beloved cat Bart.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Frantz family

Kelly Frantz was hard to miss.

The 16-year-old had bright red curly hair, an infectious laugh and a quick wit. She was outgoing and wasn’t afraid to say what was on her mind.

Frantz was killed along with Jayson Jelinek Monday when their car swerved off Third Street in Langley and struck a tree. The families of both teens said their children were full of life and love.

Amy Frantz remembers a daughter who made her laugh. Danielle, Kelly’s twin sister, mourns her best friend. And father Tony recalls a creative daughter whose hopes for the future included becoming a fashion designer.

The tears come easily to this small family left behind to mourn their daughter and sister. The loss is infinite, like a well of tears that has no bottom.

“She could be outrageous and so funny,” her mother said. “Whether people like her or not, they knew when she was around.”

Kelly and her sister Danielle Frantz were inseparable; they were friends as well as sisters.

“She’s my best friend, my other half. She was always there for me,” Danielle said. “I don’t have a single memory without her.”

“Danielle was the oldest, by eight minutes, and she never let Kelly forget that,” her mother said.

The twins were born at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, and they grew up on Whidbey Island inside the log homes built by their dad from the timber harvested from their acreage just north of Freeland.

“Having twins was incredibly special to me. The two girls together kept me in stitches. I am going to miss her forever, “ Amy Frantz said. “I’ve lost a big piece of my heart.”

Now five days after her death, the Frantz family was pulling together photos and looking through dozens of pages of fashion designs drawn by Kelly. Her dream was to be a fashion designer, and every year she had gotten better — creating more details, adding color, choosing fabric.

“She paid attention to every detail of her designs, from the buttons to trim,” Amy Frantz said.

Kelly had even created logo and name for her clothing line, “Invisible Kitty.”

Her bedroom is decorated with leopard print fabric and walls are covered with Marilyn Monroe posters.

“She loved Marilyn. She was her idol,” Amy said.

The twins spent summers acting in plays at Whidbey Children’s Theater. “She wasn’t shy and she loved to do skits and stand-up comedy routines” Amy remembered.

Kelly pitched in to help her father with the removal of creosote-soaked logs from Double Bluff Beach last year. She helped to tie strings to red balloons to mark the toxic logs so her father could come along and remove them. The cleanup effort was later honored by the state Senate.

“She told she was proud to have helped me clean up Puget Sound,” her father said.

Another side of Kelly was her love for animals. A visit to the Frantz home shows the family shared her passion for pets. Two large dogs wander in and out of the house along with Kelly’s beloved black cat, Bart.

Kelly was active in 4-H, showing a goat and her prize-winning guinea pig. Lea Ryder of Langley recalled going to 4-H shows with the twins.

“We used to load up the car up with guinea pigs and travel to fairs like Monroe. My daughter Beth, who babysat the twins, called when she heard the terrible news. ‘Oh, mom, I remember them when they were just 10; I keep thinking of them as little girls.’”

Kelly had just returned Friday from five months in a treatment center for drug and alcohol abuse. She had lost 50 pounds, was exercising more and had told her parents she planned to earn her GED.

What Tony Frantz will remember is how much his daughter had changed since getting treatment. He got a letter from her two days before she came home, and Kelly wrote how much she loved him and that she was sorry for the disagreements they had in the past. “I want to rebuild our relationship,” she wrote.

A mother’s memories of her 18-year-old son pour out as Elaine Jelinek sits on the floor of her apartment arranging a collage of photographs of her son. They will be displayed at his memorial service Monday.

Scattered around Elaine Jelinek is the photo essay of her son’s short life. Her emotions are raw — they alternate between tears and laughter — as she lovingly holds each photograph before placing it on the display board in front of her. Photos of Jayson through the years show a happy boy with an open, engaging smile.

“He would light up a room with that smile,” Elaine Jelinek said.

There is a photo of Jayson climbing aboard a school bus for the first day of kindergarten; a picture of a young artist holding a large detailed painting of an eagle that won him a prize in intermediate school.

“He has always loved eagles,” she said. “He would say can you imagine what it would be like to be an eagle, flying free.”

There is another photo going onto the display; a second-grade school photo of young Jayson wearing glasses and smiling through his braces.

“This is my favorite,” his mother said.

Another photo from pre-school, or maybe kindergarten, is of the Frantz twins.

“I am thinking of the Frantzes and what they are going through, too,” she said. “Jayson would be devastated to know that he had hurt someone else.”

Elaine Jelinek remembers a son who always cared for the less fortunate. “He always stood up for the underdog.”

“Even in first grade he would finish his work early so he could help a handicapped student learn to cut with tiny first-grade scissors,” she said.

Jayson, the first-born grandson, told his grandparents that “he was a fighter for the kids who get picked on.”

His mother picks up another memento, a photo of Jayson in a soccer uniform, and a membership card to the soccer club. “He loved to play soccer. He was a sweeper.”

One year he and his best friend Matt Morrison played on different teams. Sometimes they had to play against each other.

“Jayson hated that,” she said.

As he grew older, Jayson became interested in computers and video games in middle school and high school. He was considering a career in computers.

“Someday he hoped to write software for games,” his mother said.

“He freely admitted that he was a ‘geek.’ It didn’t bother him. All his friends, most he has had since fourth-grade, were the same.”

“My son Matt and Jayson and their other friends were at our house all the time. Just recently I came home to find they had wired all the computers and printers in the house together,” said Lori Morrison, mother to Jayson’s closest friend.

“I got on my computer and discovered they had taken control if it,” Morrison said.

Matt and Jayson were building a computer together, but Morrison’s mother couldn’t understand what the two were talking about.

“They talked together in sort of shorthand ‘geek speak.’ Jayson was part of our family,” Morrison said.

Jayson’s mother said he was a very loving son and devoted brother to his younger brother Mic.

“Every phone call he would end it with ‘I love you, mom,’” she recalled.

He didn’t take himself too seriously, she said.

“Jayson loved it when my women friends would come over for a girls’ night. We would do our nails and hair. Jayson would just sit down with us and let us paint his nails bright red.”

“A week before the accident he even helped me color and curl my hair.

“I told him maybe he would enjoy working in a hair salon,” she added. Jayson said no thanks, but said he was happy to help his mom with her hair.

Elaine Jelinek said she had talked to her son several hours before the accident.

“We made plans for dinner together that evening when he got home. Our dinners together were important to both of us. He would say ‘Mommy, we need a date.’ When he said that, I knew he needed to be alone with me to talk,” she said.

His mother said her son had experienced troubled times in his short life, but he was always a devoted, loving son.

“He struggled and just didn’t understand his worth to all of us,” she said. “We will miss him everyday.”

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