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Community Remembers Jay Ingram

Community members gathered on the soccer field at Living Hope Church Tuesday to celebrate the life and legacy of Coach Jay.

Yellow balloons floated into a sunlit sky Tuesday afternoon as more than 1500 people gathered on the soccer field in Kennesaw to mourn, remember, and celebrate the life of Jeffrey "Jay" Ingram.

The 32-year-old father of two after being while jogging on North Booth Road Thursday morning.

"Coach Jay" was many things to many people. He was a youth soccer coach, a physical education teacher at Kennesaw Charter Science and Math Academy, an active member of his church, a loving husband to wife Corinne, and a father to Aiden and Kailyn.

Helicopters passed overhead during the 2 p.m. service, and cars whizzed by on Stilesboro Road. If these passersby had taken notice, they would have seen men dressed in yellow button down shirts, girls wearing yellow nail polish, kids in yellow soccer jerseys, and dozens of boys sporting newly shaved mohawks. They would have heard crying and laughter and music, and they would have smelled grass and dirt mixed with the scent of yellow flowers and latex balloons.

The color yellow represented who Jay was at his core—"predictably unpredictable," "energetic," "competitive," "a rock star" whose coffin is now covered in hundreds of signatures and messages from adoring friends, family and fans.

As Jay's friend and former youth group leader Mark Paul put it: he was "a hero," someone who lived life "like his soul was burning on a special kind of fuel."

Shared Memories

Addressing the crowd, Matt Payne recalled how his older brother used to pick him up from middle school driving a yellow Geo Metro, windows rolled down, and with no shirt on. "He drove it like it was a Rolls-Royce," Payne said. "Every time, I was like, 'That's my brother.'"

Jason Page, a friend and co-worker at Kennesaw Charter, said Jay was the kind of teacher who could throw a kid into a trashcan, and the kid would love him for it.

He was, in fact, the kind of teacher who threw kids into trashcans.

Jay was known for his Crocs, his ever-evolving hairstyles, and his endless repertoire of pranks. But beneath all the jokes and hijinks, he ran a structured classroom. He never left a kid behind, Page said.

He had a way with kids, and he was brave enough to teach elementary school students archery with pointed arrows, not foam ones, Page laughed. Jay trusted his kids, and they felt that trust.

Page said Jay was integral in building Kennesaw Charter and School members have said Coach was the soul of the school, "but I say he is the soul of our new school," Page said.

A Special Heart

Above all, Jay was a loving husband and father, Payne said of his brother.

Payne described the special love Jay and his wife Corinne shared. They attended college together at Georgia State University and saw "Toy Story 2" on their first date. One Valentine's Day, Jay surprised his wife with a large (but not very tall) box. Out of it sprung Jay, covered in styrofoam packaging peanuts.

"As big as his smile was, it was never as big as when he was talking about his wife and kids," Payne said.

Payne, who was born premature and hooked up to a heart monitor as an infant, said his heart stopped beating when no was else was in the room but Jay. "My brother was 7-years-old, and he called 9-1-1 and saved my life," he said, adding that even now, Jay is saving lives.

Jay died from head trauma but had no internal bleeding and no other major injuries, Payne said. He was an athlete. He took care of himself, didn't smoke and ate well. He had healthy lungs, a good liver, pancreas and kidneys.

All of Jay's organs . His heart went to a 50-year-old, his lungs to a 27-year-old, a kidney and liver to a patient with liver failure, and a kidney and pancreas to a patient with diabetes and kidney failure.

The transplant team said "he had the most perfect heart they had ever seen."

"I think those who knew him already knew that," Payne said.

Community members have set up a contribution account for the Ingram family. One hundred percent of the donations go directly to Jay’s wife Corinne and their two children. Donations can be made at any location. When making a donation, please reference the Jay Ingram Family Benefit Contribution Account.

Please leave your words of remembrance in our comments section. You can also add to our gallery by clicking the "Upload photos and videos" link.

Ryan Young February 01, 2012 at 01:32 PM
This should inspire and motivate every person that reads this to remember that life is fragile, and we should do all the good we can while we are here on this earth.
Dan Voshall February 02, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Jay dated one of my wife's best friends when they were in high school. He went to their church, First Baptist of Conyers ,and even though I was Catholic, his smile always made me feel welcome. We developed a great friendship and then we both went away to college. I lost track with him at that point and heard stories here and there since. When you're busy living your own life, you take for granted those people around you. You always expect them to be there. I was working in Kennesaw when I got the news Friday morning that Jay had been in an accident and I needed to pray for him. I got a text later that he had passed... I unknowlingly drove right past Kennestone hospital. Had I known he was there, I would have stopped. It's crazy, I can't believe he's gone and now I'm sad that I didn't get to share some of those memories with him, tell him what a great friend he was and of course, say good bye. He was truly an inspiring soul and I will never forget him. Take care buddy, I will see you again one day.
Reginald Christian February 03, 2012 at 02:44 AM
A very nice, energetic, and crazy guy who was just as passionate about educating and mentoring students as I am. You left a favorable impression on me that will serve as inspiration forever. Rest In Peace Coach.
Janet Newburg February 06, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I didn't know Jay, but in a way I feel like I do. My 63-year-old husband is one of very few people privileged to be on a heart transplant list. My husband, who turns 64 on February 9th, has been suffering for over two years from a severely damaged heart as a result of a massive heart attack in 2009. Two weeks ago, he was told he was so sick that he could not leave the hospital if he wanted to live. He now resides in Emory's CCU unit, waiting for a heart. This journey has been long and has made me realize, if I didn't before, how very precious life is. My heart goes out to Jay, his wife and children, his mother, father and any siblings. What a wonderful person Jay seems to have been, a real force on this earth. And now Jay lives on in others that benefited from one of the most tragic things that can occur in this life -- the death of a young, vibrant, energetic, contributing member of our earthly family. So much goes into being placed on a heart transplant list, but the one thing that everyone can do to help others is to become an organ donor. It seems that Jay was all about life, and now he lost his own, yet others can live. It reminds me of another that lost His life so long ago. Thank you Jay and Jay's family for giving the gift of organ donation. May Jay rest in peace. God bless.

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