Jacob Torgeson: a young life lived well


Jacob Torgeson (2005-2023)

Benjamin Franklin wisely advised, “Wish not so much to live long as to live well.” 

Living well was a value that Jacob Torgeson, age 18, of Roscoe, IL, who tragically and unexpectedly passed away on Tuesday, September 11, 2023, lived by every day. 

Jacob was a 2023 Hononegah Community High School graduate and recently began attending Rock Valley College. He aspired to earn his Ph.D. and to become a history professor. He planned to run for Congress and Senate eventually. Jacob also wanted to serve in the army. 

Jacob loved photography and had a special knack for capturing beautiful images. In 2020, while attending Hononegah High School, his black-and-white photography earned recognition and was displayed at the Rock Valley College High School Art Show.

One of Jacob Torgeson’s photographs on display at Rock Valley College

Photography wasn't his only favorite pastime, as he was an avid reader and loved reading about philosophy and history. He enjoyed attending and participating in the Midway Village WWII events and reenactments, where he made connections and formed friendships with people of all ages and from all walks of life. 

Jacob’s father, Jeff Torgeson, says that Jacob was a Sons of American Legion member since the age of two years old. He was in many of Rockford’s Memorial Day parades over the years, where he annually passed out over 1,500 flags to young children. Last June, he spoke at Eastern Illinois University for the Boys State event, where he discussed his experience as a lifelong program member and thanked the American Legion sponsors. 

Boys State event speech in June 2023.

Jacob also loved working with children and was a Kids Care Aid at Kinnikinnick school district. 

While all of these achievements and accomplishments are impressive enough in a life so young, it was Jacob’s generous, loving, and kind nature that shines out the brightest to Jacob’s friends and family. 

Jacob realized something very important early on in his life: love truly is what makes this world go round.

A beacon of light to every person he came in contact with, Jacob shined so brightly that he attracted any youth who ever felt that they didn't quite belong in this world, and made them a part of his own. In his world, there was no ridicule or judgment, and it certainly didn’t matter if you ‘fit in’ or not. Jacob welcomed you into his life and became a safe place, full of light, love, and encouragement for you to be the best version of yourself possible.

From left to right: Ayden Dioneda, DJ Catalini, Ethan Merriman, Colton Wolfe, and Jacob Torgeson.

I can say the above with absolute certainty and conviction because he was my son’s best friend, and I will forever be grateful for the impression he made on him. While Jacob didn't have any biological siblings, he leaves behind a group of great friends who were his brothers in spirit and his memory will always be imprinted on their hearts. 

When I asked them to tell me something about Jacob that they felt people should know about him, I was touched by their responses and how they viewed their friend.

Ayden Dioneda said of his best friend, “He was the most caring individual that I had ever met and he would give you his last dime just to see you smile. He was an old soul, he believed in karma, and he believed that everything happened for a reason. I will always carry his legacy and honor his memory until my last breath.” 

Colton Wolfe added, “He will live on through his brothers and we will carry on his legacy.”

Ethan Merriman said, “Jacob was very caring and charismatic and he was the type of person everyone loved to be around. Even on your darkest days, he could make you smile. He was a genuine and true brother.”

DJ Catalini said, “Jacob was one of the most loyal friends I had. No matter what we went through or how bad we were fighting, he always would be there if you needed him, rain or shine. He made even the worst days better.” 

As for me, I also had the honor of knowing Jacob, and loved him like a second son. When I picture him in my mind, I see him shooting hoops in his driveway with my son and their friends, or standing by his mailbox waiting for the school bus to pick him up as I drive by, and he raises his head to smile and wave at me. I see him helping my husband build our backyard deck. I hear the laughter of a gang of misfits as they enjoy a video game and share a pizza, without a worry in the world. I see that wide, reassuring grin of his and my heart aches alongside his family, his friends, and our community, as we mourn the loss of a life so young, lived so well. 

Fitzgerald Funeral Home will be assisting the family with a private service. 

A GoFundMe has been arranged by the family to assist with funeral costs. 

American Legion Post 1207 will be holding a celebration of life in Jacob’s honor on Saturday, September 16, 2023, from 12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Family and Friends are welcome to attend. 

I find it fitting to end this tribute to Jacob with a quote that he loved, by Elon Musk - "When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor."

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Thank You for sharing who Jacob was. He sounded like someone we all want to have as a part of our life. I’m heartbroken to hear that his friends need to walk their journeys without him. I heard a quote once-Some people are like fireworks they soar high in the sky but when they fall back to earth they bring so much color and make us happy. Credit goes out to an old soul I knew like Jacob. I send everyone love and prayers.

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