Make the most of the time you have with people you love was the central message at the Celebration of Life service for Clayton Boen at First Pentecostal Church on Saturday.

Boen, a 16-year-old Centennial High School student, died on Jan. 14 after falling through the window of a vehicle driven by an impaired minor at the intersection of Renfro Road and Madison Michelle Way.

Three family members spoke during a service that drew hundreds of people, including around 75 students who carried and dropped off individual roses at a photo display of Boen at the head of the altar before the service began.

Boen’s dad, Cameron, shared piece of advice during his comments for fellow parents who attended the service.

“You can’t make up for lost time,” he said. “Give hugs, lots of hugs, because no matter how perfect you think your child is, you never know what’s going to happen. I believe that because of Clayton’s big heart and perfect qualities that he’s got to be the tallest angel in heaven right now.”

Boen’s aunt Patty McCathron said Boen was in many ways the center of the family.

“Clayton was our shining star who occupied our family universe. So goes with bright stars like him, they burn out much too quickly because they are called up to heaven,” she said. “Honor his legacy by refusing to let guilt take control of your life. Clayton, you will be missed and always be loved.”

Boen’s cousin Bryson McCathron also spoke at the service, talking about some of his experiences growing up with Clayton, including one time where they were involved in starting a neighborhood dog-walking service.

“Clayton was a brilliant young man in all aspects of life,” he said. “Clayton was the person to say or do something in a hard situation and make it just a little bit easier for everyone else.”

McCathron said he remembered that his last conversation with Boen was about his plans for the future. Boen was interested in becoming a doctor.

“Clayton had big dreams for his life. He pictured himself going off to a big college, getting a degree and setting himself up for a very successful life,” he said. “He had a vision that most people don’t get until later in their lives, and it saddens me deeply that it was all taken away so soon.”

McCathron said he hopes that everyone lives life to the fullest in memory of Boen.

“I challenge everyone in this room to strive for their best in life, and in the process, crack that wise joke, hug on a person, love on that person just like Clayton would,” he said. “We must continue to strive in our lives because that’s what he would want. We must never forget that he’s always with us.”

Besides the family remarks, the service also included a poem read by his cousin Taylor Lopez, remarks by Rev. Leon Frost as well as a slideshow presentation include photos of Boen.

Centennial High held two moments of silence in Boen’s memory the week after his death, one during regular school hours and another at a boys basketball game. Boen played basketball and football at the school.

Boen is survived by his mother Tausha Williams and father Cameron, as well as three brothers: Chance, Cayden and Donnie Ray. He is also survived by his grandparents as well as several aunts and uncles.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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