Hayden High School students watch as Charlie Donelson consoles his wife, Shannon, during a memorial service for their son, Robert "Bobby" Donelson. Friday's service was held in the school's gymnasium three days after Bobby collapsed and died on the school's football field.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Hayden High School students watch as Charlie Donelson consoles his wife, Shannon, during a memorial service for their son, Robert "Bobby" Donelson. Friday's service was held in the school's gymnasium three days after Bobby collapsed and died on the school's football field.

Hayden says goodbye

Memorial service for Robert 'Bobby' Donelson fills high school gym

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Pastor Doug Zirkle speaks at Robert "Bobby" Donelson's memorial service.

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Robert "Bobby" Donelson's uncle, Danny David, holds his son, Preston, while telling stories about Bobby at his memorial service.

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Chris Donelson, from left, puts his head on his father Charlie's shoulder during a memorial service held Friday for Robert "Bobby" at Hayden High School. Chris' brother, Bobby, collapsed and died on the Hayden High School track Tuesday afternoon.

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Flowers and a picture of Bobby Donelson sit outside the Hayden High School gym.

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Shannon Donelson kisses her son Chris' hand Friday during a memorial service for her other son, 15-year-old Bobby.

— Hundreds of friends, family members and classmates packed the Hayden High School gymnasium Friday afternoon to remember Robert "Bobby" Donelson in an emotional memorial service, with black and orange ribbons pinned to their clothes in his memory.

People wrote their favorite memories of Bobby and personal messages on banners, putting down their final goodbyes in marker. Bobby was remembered Friday for his inquisitive nature, friendly spirit, playful pyromania and trademark long socks that hung off the ends of his feet.

At a candlelight vigil at Hayden High School earlier this week, when Pastor Doug Zirkle's Dixie cup candleholder caught fire while he was leading attendees in prayer, no one would have appreciated that unexpected turn of events more than Bobby, Zirkle said.

"He was a good kid. Always doing something fun, always blowing something up," his uncle, Danny Davis, said Friday.

"He left so many people with so many memories," Bobby's mother, Shannon Donelson, said. "He was our life; he was our love; he was our baby."

Bobby, 15, died Tuesday afternoon after collapsing during a daily walk around the Hayden High School football field with his health class. An autopsy revealed he died of acute heart failure, caused by an undiagnosed genetic defect, Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said Friday.

Bobby's peers in the close-knit sophomore class sat together during the memorial service, consoling one another during the somber ceremony.

A slide show showed Bobby with his friends and family in happier times - fishing, snowshoeing, jumping on a trampoline, and fooling around with his friends at school.

Although Bobby had spent only three years in Hayden schools, he and his brother Chris had been welcomed by the community with open arms, his mother said.

The Donelsons had been planning to relocate to Missouri in the near future, and Bobby's mascot at his new school would have remained the same, Zirkle said.

"Bobby told his mom, 'Yeah, it's still going to say Tigers on my graduation ring, but I want it to say Hayden Tigers,'" Zirkle said.

To close the memorial service, Zirkle recited a poem submitted by Hayden High School's sophomore class in Bobby's memory.

"Your seat is now empty, and it's hard not to see your face, but please know this - no one will ever take your place," he said.

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