Mourners grieve three High Point drowning victims
The three victims in last weekend’s tragic drowning in north High Point were memorialized and laid to rest the same way they died.
About 200 mourners Friday morning crowded into the sanctuary of Oak Hill Friends Meeting for the joint funeral service of Kenny Jordan, his wife Heather, and Heather’s 12-year-old daughter, Nikki Simpkins. The three died early Sunday morning after trying to swim in a frigid retention pond along Penny Road.
Amid the stark image of three caskets stretching end to end across the front of the sanctuary — with Nikki’s white casket, trimmed with gold, in the middle — pastors offered words of comfort, hope and encouragement to grieving family and friends.
“God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,” said the Rev. Scott Wagoner, pastor of Deep River Friends Meeting. “God is with everyone. God desires to be known by all, but God seems to be especially close to those who hurt, to those who have a broken heart. And so we gather this morning as those whose hearts are broken, as those who mourn.”
With questions still unanswered about the unusual circumstances of the three deaths — trying to swim in an ice-cold pond at 3 o’clock in the morning — the pastors spoke little of those questions, but spoke more of the sovereignty of God.
“There have been for the Jordan family many, many, many, many, many beautiful, bright, sun-splashed days,” said the Rev. John Sides, pastor of Oak Hill Friends Meeting.
“There’ve been days that life has been so good that I hope you danced, because life was just that good. But there have also been days of sadness and sorrow, disappointment and hurt, and you as a family have known your share of trouble. I say all that to say this: God was Lord of all in all those days.”
Bishop Robert O. Ingram, pastor of United Praise Deliverance Outreach Ministry in Thomasville — and an extended family member — agreed.
“Kenny will not be able to see his children graduate, Heather will not be able to see her children graduate, and Nikki will not be able to get married and have children,” Ingram said, “but God is still in control.”
Nikki’s fellow students at Southwest Guilford Middle School did not attend the funeral, though some of them attended a visitation Thursday. Excluding family members, the only other child mourner was a boy — he looked to be a little younger than Nikki — who carried three red roses as he entered the sanctuary.
Wagoner, who married Kenny and Heather a few years ago, encouraged mourners to rely on their faith as they grieve.
“We may have more questions than answers, and in this moment it’s hard to make sense, but we have gathered this morning to bring our confusion, our sadness and memories to the feet of Christ,” he said.
“And as we leave them there, we know that we may eventually understand, but in the meantime we hang on to God. We hang on to God because, in the end, that’s all we have.”
Following the service, lunchtime traffic in front of the church stopped for the funeral procession, as a hearse turned from Ward Avenue onto Westchester Drive.
Another hearse followed, and then another, a subtle reminder that this tragedy had not one victim but three.
Kenny, Heather and Nikki were buried at Deep River Friends Cemetery, in three adjacent plots donated by a member of that church’s congregation.
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