Originally posted at 11:21 a.m. Sept. 7, 2013.
Twenty-one-year-old Stewart Wilshire was following the path of many young adults in South Orange County trying to make their way in life.
Working not one but two restaurant jobs, with his The O.C. good looks and a girlfriend of five years, Wilshire was going to Saddleback College with hopes of pursuing a sports-oriented career.
Then all that ended last week with a traffic collision in Tustin which ejected him out of the car and physically out of hundreds of people’s lives, if not spiritually.
“Our beautiful crazy love doesn’t end here. Our journey continues and I will take your love to every place we ever dreamed of and accomplish everything we ever talked about,” wrote girlfriend Britt Vazac.
Today, Vazac and other family members and friends will come together to remember Wilshire at his funeral and memorial services.
Asked to describe Wilshire and close family friend Victoria Moss said "dynamic."
"He was one of those kids who lit up the room when he walked in," she said.
“He was a great athlete with a lot of potential,” said longtime Dana Hills High School track coach Craig Dunn. “He always came out and worked hard.” Wilshire ran the hurdles and did high jump. Back issues, Dunn said, prevented him from continuing on a competitive level.
“He loved sports and was hoping to do something in the sports broadcasting/writing/agency industry,” added Moss.
Post-graduation, Wilshire would work out with his dad, wrote aunt Judy Rosso Llopart in material she prepared for the deacon officiating today.
“Stew was a certifiable sports fanatic and would talk sports for hours with his Pittsburgh friend (a friendship that endured for years after he moved back to California). He was also very serious about fitness. He joined his dad in their fitness routines,” according to Llopart.
That self-searching trip to Pennsylvania happened during Wilshire’s high school years, when he checked out of Dana and into a private school across country for a semester, wrote his father Joe Wilshire in a booklet compiling family memories. Just like here, Wilshire made strong bonds.
Joe remembers that time mostly for the pain of separation.
“I watched my son walk into the [airport] terminal I almost immediately began sobbing and feeling such a big hole in my heart,” Joe wrote. Stewart was wise, funny, smart, handsome and so compassionate, he added.
“I will always be Stew’s Dad.”
Stewart Wilshire is survived by his father Joe, his mother Valerie, his brother Brett, 19, his sister Jillian, 12, and his longtime girlfriend Britt Vazac. For those inclined, the family is asking that tribute gift be made to the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Stewart's name.