Jul. 7,2011 - 12:03pm
Ted Daigle
Dear Ava,

I wanted to let you know how important your father was to me. For a long time we were best friends, we lived together for a few years and spent most of free time together for years. Wes always loved to make others around him happy; he loved to have a great time, and almost always had a huge smile on his face. Your father and I played golf on a regular basis; I was bless to have him in my wedding, and was honored to be in his and your mother’s. Wes was a huge part of my life for a long time, and I am blessed to of had him as a friend. I now have a daughter of my own, and know that love that he has for you. When you were just a few weeks old, he brought you into my work to show you off to me. He loved you so much, and will be always watching over you. I went to high school with your mother and she is just as wonderful your father was. I wish you all the best and know that I think of you and your parents often and keep you in my prayers. I wish you all the best.


Ted Daigle
Sep. 29,2010 - 11:19am
Matt Crum
Dearest Ava,
Your father was the most caring, kind and loving friend that anyone could ever have asked for. Without hesitation, he would do anything for anyone yet ask for or expect nothing in return. He was always humble, hard-working, talented and dedicated to every part of his life.
His love and dedication showed most when it came to you and your mother. He loved you both so much. He was to incredibly proud of you both and he took every opportunity he had to let everyone know it. You both were his first thoughts in the mornings and his last thoughts at night. I'll never forget the love I saw in his eyes when he introduced you to me for the first time, saying "this, this is the Beautiful Ava." He was so filled with joy; I think I saw his heart that night.
Ava, as he was to so many, he was like a brother to me. We experienced a lot together. We learned about life together. We went through heartbreaks, joy and pain together. He gave me confidence when I had none, support when I asked for it, and forgiveness when I needed it the most. He was always there, no matter what, period.
He was such an unselfish friend and person, that it was amazing. It always seemed that no matter what was going on in his life, he always had time for someone else. If any of his family or friends were down, he'd always be there to pick them up and dust them off and help them to get back on track. he just simply had so much love in his heart, that he hated to see anyone suffer.
His love for you, his love for your mother, his love for his family and friends and his love for living were infectious. He touched nearly everyone he came in contact with. Everything he stood for and accomplished, he did so with a passion unlike I've ever seen.
He will forever be by your side, as he has been for all of us. He will always look over you and love you with his whole heart. God will keep him close to all of us. Talk to him every day, he'll be listening.
Your daddy loves you so much. Remember always that he's there beside you. Carry his love with you every step of the way.
With love and admiration,
Matt Crum
Jul. 7,2010 - 12:31pm
Happy Birthday Wes!
We all love and miss you so much!
Jul. 7,2010 - 12:09pm
Happy Birthday Wes!
We all love and miss you so much!
Jul. 7,2010 - 11:44am
7/7/2010 - Ava, I knew your dad and he made a lasting impression on me as a fun-loving, hard-working, all-around great guy. He is missed by many and on this anniversary of his birth, I am saddened to learn about his death. He lives on in my memories, and in the memories of his many friends and family. May you grow up knowing the boundless love he held for you. His spirit lives on in you. Achieve greatness.
Apr. 8,2010 - 09:17am
The Crum Family
Dear Ava,

Your Dad was a very special guy and very much loved. He brought sunshine into the room each time he entered and a big, warm hug. From those high school days, jamming in our living room to the last time we saw him in Denver, about the time you were being born, he has been a part of our family too. The following is paraphrased from a prayer written by Henry Scott Holland about 100 years ago, and we thought it might help you. God bless you, your Mom and your Dad. Remember that he’s right around the corner whenever you need him, just ask.

Death is nothing at all. Your Dad has only slipped away into the next room. He is still who he was, and you are still you. Your relationship with him has not changed. Think of him and speak to him as you always have. Laugh with him at the little jokes you always enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of him and pray for him. Keep his name as it has been, a household word that is spoken without even the shadow of grieve. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute unbroken continuity. Death is but a minor accident. Why should your Dad be out of your mind, just because he’s out of your sight? He is with you always, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost. Someday, it will all be again as it once was and you and he will laugh at the trouble you had in parting…when you meet again!

The Crum Family
Mar. 9,2010 - 07:34pm
Jason Nusbaum
Dear Ava, First thing's first i am truly sorry for your loss your father was a one of a kind person there was never a time that i saw him that we didn't greet each other with a hug and a kind word to each other.I met you father in first grade we were around 7 or 8 and immediately became friends as children we would play in the wood's and play football in the backyard.We attended the same middle school and remained friends then we both attended different high school's it would seem six month's to a year would go by and I would always run into Wes and we would spend time hanging out and then we would each go on with life then I would be somewhere and there would be your dad and we would do it all over again.So this would go on and we would always stay in touch well i moved to tennessee and was gone for 6 years then i moved back home to maryland about this time i had talked with your mother which i've known since high school Carla has always been very special to me and i was really happy she was with your father because i knew he was a good guy so i got home and was suppose to meet up with Wes again and i am so heartbroken i never did i truly regret that.But I know you will have questions about him as you grow up and i know alot of people will be there to tell you about his kind and gentle soul.
Mar. 9,2010 - 10:50am
"Brother" John Purvis
Dear Ava,

I hope you revisit these letters many times throughout your life. These memories capture what many of us take for granted, forget over time or simply never know to begin with. You may, one day, think it is suspicious that there is a distinct lack of less-than-savory memories of your father. Although nobody lives an absolutely "perfect" existence you should know that your Dad was really skilled at bringing about happiness, excitement and unpredictability in so many good ways. In all honesty it would take anyone a long and hard mental search to come up with something even mildly negative about him.

I knew of Wes Cress before he knew me. My next door neighbor was friends with him through local gymnastics meets before we were teenagers. I did not attend any formal gymnastics training so I never met him then. I did hear his voice on a tape recording he made with my neighbor. (That was daring technology at the time). At that point he was simply a word-of-mouth childhood legend.

Many years later, after I had been through college and traveled a good bit, I came back to this area where I knew I would be among good friends. I met several new ones, quite unexpectedly (as that is how that usually turns out), and, through them, I was introduced to your father. It wasn't until then, so many years after I had heard of him for the first time, that we actually met and became friends.

It was a joy to meet him. He was very eclectic and had a lot in common with many people. While so many people try very hard to be like that (and fail because of it) it just came naturally and effortlessly to your father. Of the many things he was great at I connected with him through the social scene and the music scene.

You have heard and read so many accounts of his charisma and his talents. All true. Every word. I will add to that the confidence with which he picked up a guitar and belted out some vocals to go along with it... the skill was certainly there, but with it was a curiosity for what else was going on around him. One could look at him in those moments and see the wheels turning in his head. It was his unadvertised quietness in those moments that I really enjoyed the most because I knew that he was silently busy working out how something he liked worked and how he could make something good even better.

The contemplative moments were good but I have to admit that nothings stands out like the moments that made me laugh. There were many of those, including some I can't write about here. One that I will tell you about is a visit I had to his house (when he lived with his Mom and Dad). He asked me if I was hungry and no matter what I said he was already determined to bake a pizza. He put the frozen pizza in the oven and we sat in the living room and shot the breeze for the forty minutes it took for the pizza to finish cooking. I don't remember what it was we had been talking about but we were laughing until our stomachs hurt when we heard the oven timer sound. Wes, still laughing and talking from the kitchen yelped in pain and I heard the light crash of a pan dropping. I went to the kitchen and saw that the pizza was fine, sitting on top of the stove, but Wes was still giggling and flailing his hand in the air like he was trying to shake something off of it. I asked him what had happened and he started laughing even harder which made me laugh even harder. He told me he had taken the pizza out of the oven but had forgotten to use oven mitts and he had burned his hand. It wasn't a horrible burn but it couldn't have been pleasant. Still, he laughed at his accident and he made me laugh until it hurt to laugh. He had the habit of doing that - making any situation positive. He did it genuinely, naturally and, I think, accidentally just because that was the stuff that your father was made out of.

I rode the school bus with your mother waaaay back when. When I found out that she and your father had met and started dating it was very thrilling! Two separate life lines, both of which I knew, had come together to make one bigger, better one. The best part is how wonderfully the combination turned out.

Very recently, I was hanging out with your father and Steve, another great friend, and he said something very profound. We had been chatting about our lives and, of course, the people in them. Your Dad said very plainly and clearly to us that there was one thing that completely fulfilled his life. That was you, Ava. Keep in mind that he had been many places, done many things, met many people and experienced more than most people dream about in a lifetime. Still, seeing you come into the world was the one thing that gave him his greatest fulfillment. Everything came together with you - his love for your mother and his entire life experience drew together and bloomed in you. He spoke this with authority and grace. I could tell how strongly he felt about it and I carry this memory with me not just as a memory of Wes Cress, but as a meaningful observation of life itself.

You are and will continue to be your father's world.

With much admiration,
Mar. 9,2010 - 08:40am
Cassi Koresko
Dear Ava,
This is the story of how your parents met.
Once opon a time there was a little girl named Cassi and a little boy named Wes. Wes and Cassi lived across the street from each other, rode the same bus, and went to the same schools. Cassi wasn’t really friends with a lot of boys in her younger years because of the whole boy/girl cootie thing but Wes was an exception. He was just so darn nice, full of energy, and oh those dimples! Young Wes was always good for a smile, a hello, or some kind of stunt. The years past by and high school was approaching. Cassi decided to go out of district to Francis Scott Key High School while Wes went on to Westminster High School. Cassi was very shy and didn’t know many people in her new school but met a nice girl with a great smile her freshman year on the soccer field. This girls name was Carla. Little did Cassi know at the time that this mutual friendship she had between Wes and Carla would ever lead to love. So Carla and Cassi went to dances, played soccer, attended parties, graduated, and went on to college. A few years later Carla and Cassi became roommates and the real fun began! Eventually Cassi and Wes crossed paths again and it was like those 8 years of not seeing each other never exsisted. Wes and Cassi began running into each other often and developed a new friendship. One day Cassi was talking to a friend of Wes’s and said, “Wes really reminds me of a male version of my roommate Carla.” “They are both so layed back, free spirited, have great smiles, and kind hearts.” Cassi spoke with Wes and Carla and a meet and greet was arranged. The rest as they say is history!

I would like to take full credit for fixing your parents up but only God could bring together two people so perfect for each other. I have so many stories about your dad, one day we will sit down and I will share them with you. What I will say has been said over and over again by the people that new Wes, and that is his smile was infectious and his laugh was contagious. He would light up a room when he walked into it with those endless dimples of his! When I talked to your dad I felt like no one else was around, even in a crowded room. He gave his full attention to what you were saying and really listened. At a party he would make everyone feel comfortable and like they belonged even if they didn’t know anyone. Your dad and I had many conversations about how in love we were with our children, so much in love that we felt like we were going crazy. Believe me Ava, your dad loved you more then life itself. When he spoke of you his eyes sparked and his voice softened. Wes was always a joyous spirit that loved living life, but when you were born he was complete. Just when everyone thought Wes’s personality couldn’t shine anymore, it did! Everytime he held you in his arms, everytime he spoke your name a new glow radiated from him. He loved your mom too! They had this very special relationship I can only describe as passionate. They loved with passion and they fought with passion, but always looked at each other with love. Your dad will live on in you forever. He will be watching you from heaven, being the little gardian angel on your shoulder. He will live on in others too, in the lives he saved, in your grandmothers laugh, and in all of our hearts. The best word to sum up your dad is “awesome!”

Cassi Koresko
Mar. 8,2010 - 01:07pm
Chris Carta
Hello Ava,

It has been too many years since I last saw your father. Wes and I went to high school together and we hung out more frequently during our senior year.
Wes would put a smile on your face faster than he could do a back flip and he was a lot of fun to be around.
One particular story keeps coming to mind though...
I believe we were about 15 years old or so? A bunch of us went on a youth group trip with Father David to Old Ragg Mountain in West Virginia. We had a blast, playing games on the ride down and then exploring the mountain and all the trails. At the conclusion of the trip, Father David decided to give all of us "Indian names," since we were having so much fun in the wilderness. I cannot recall my name, or those of the others in our group. However, your dad's name stuck with me. Father David called your dad the "Wild White Stallion," this was because of his stature and the way he galloped up and down the mountain according to Father David. We all had a good laugh, including your dad. What was true about the name was the strength your dad possessed and passed on to those around him. No just the obvious physical strength from gymnastics, but his calming personality. I don't remember ever having a bad time when Wes was around. I'm sure he is with you and your mom. I am sorry for your loss and hope you enjoy reading through all the letters from your father's family and friends, you can see he had a very positive impact on many lives.

Chris Carta
Mar. 8,2010 - 01:06am
tina freeed-graen
Dearest Ava,
Although I haven't had the privalege of meeting you yet, i did however have the great honor of knowing your father. We first met when I was a junior in high school. We shared a chorus class together while attendind Westminster High School. Some of my fondest memories of your dad was his great passion for music. I use to beg him to play Hotel california, singing, while strumming his guitar. I am a huge fan of the Eagles Band. Although this was a song he was often requested to play, he was always willing to oblidge. Amoung his many talents, he would often entertain us with his back flips and his skilled gymnastic abilities.
Wes had an alluminating smile that brightend any room! No matter how upset I may have been, it was uterally impossible to maintain my distain. Your father was always the life of every party/function, leaving no person left out. Despite the years that passed us by, he always managed to be available to lend a shoulder to lean on, and an ear to listen. He had a way of making all my troubles fade away. After 10 years had passed since we had talked, the last time i had the pleasure to see him once more in a local restaraunt, only to pick up and share our memories as if no time had gone by.
He spoke of what a wonderful wife he had, and the most endearing daughter he had recently pleasured parenting. It was apparent what a proud father he had become with adoring pictures of is beloved gift. You were two when we last spoke.
Even after 10 years of a life of parting from his younger years and time spent with old friends, he managed to still have touched so many lives, that every person who ever knew him, was there to support your entire family, in the celebration of his life with each and every one of us. He was so adored, and remebered for his magnifecent smile, unforgettable sense of humor and allegience to his comrads.
Just know what a proud father he was, and devoted husband, and loving son and brother. He will be greatly missed, and never forgotten. His gracious appreciation of life will forever live on in the many lives he saved by his selfless act of donating his healthy gifts from God, to those in need. His memory will live on forever, and his soul will be with you, guiding you through your life, baring his great dimples, as he proudly watches over your continued growth throuout yours and your mother's lives.
My AWESOME friend Wes, thankyou for the most fondest of memories, and I look forward to seeing you again in the eternal life i pray to share, with great remorse and honored frienship, until we meet again.
Your friend,
Mar. 5,2010 - 03:22pm
Charles Oetter
You're father and I first met when we were going to College. We took a Golf Class together. We instantly became friends and tried to take the same classes together. Your Father was a one of a kind person that ALWAYS had a smile on his face and was the first person to ask how you were doing if he hadn't seen them in awhile. He made people smile and always was the life of the party. He is looking down upon you and your Mother now and is both of your guy's Guardian Angel and is sorely missed by everybody.
Mar. 5,2010 - 01:14pm
Diana Wood-Birdsong
Dear Ava,

Your Daddy was one of a kind! His smile was infectious and you always had a good time when he was around. When we were kids, he had BOUNDLESS energy. He loved to show off his feats of strength. "Look what I can do!" "Watch this!" Always laughing, always smiling. Then we lost touch for a few years and when I saw him again he was joined by your mother. She was perfectly suited for him. You are blessed to come from two joyous souls who loved one another so very much. A couple years later, YOU came along and became Daddy’s Little Girl! The way he so proudly looked at you, cared for you and cherished you is a gift. I am sure your Daddy will always look down from Heaven and watch over you.

Your numerous cousins and extended family are here for you – whenever you need us. God bless you!

The Birdsong Family
Mar. 4,2010 - 10:51pm
Aunt Tara
My darling little Ava Grace,
I don't even know where to begin to tell you how special your daddy was to me and everyone around him. From when he was a little guy like you he always had a smile on his face. Whether he was climbing a tree or doing flips in the back yard, he was always smiling. As we grew up, we spent many weekends/summers together. Many of my close friends became his friends too. No matter how long it was that they didn't see him, he always remembered them and they always remembered that cute, smiling, blue eyed guy with the irresisitable dimples. Then when we became grown ups and had families of our own, anyone could see that he was meant to be a daddy. The love he has for you is amazing. You are the apple of his eye today and always. Your daddy will always be with you and your mommy. Anytime that you need him just place your hand on your heart and know that he is there. The last time I was with him, he told me how much he loved when you weren't feeling well because you would snuggle him even closer. He told me how much he loved that feeling. As time passes you may be worried that the memories of him may fade but that will never happen. There will be so many people surrounding you with many wonderful memories they have of your daddy. His memories will never fade. You and your mommy will miss him everyday but always remember that your daddy loves you both so very much and will be with you no matter where you are. If you ever need anything know that you have so many people out there that love you too and we will always be there for you. We love you Ava and Carla. Your daddy will always be in our hearts.
Love you,
Aunt Tara
Mar. 4,2010 - 04:40pm
Little Virginia Wehner
I am so sad to hear about your daddy. You have beautiful blue eyes like your daddy and a beautiful smile. I know you will miss him very much. I hope you always remember how much he loves you, even though you can't see him.
Mar. 4,2010 - 03:53pm
Laurie Oetzel
Dear Ava,

Your dad was a very special person and as I look at the picture of your dad and you, I can definitely see that he lives on in you. His memory lives on in all of us because anyone that knew him will never forget him. Please know that you have so many people who love you and your mom and love your dad as well. And the most important thing to rememeber is that your dad loves you and your mom so very much. You could see his pride and joy when he looked at you and your mom. His eyes would literally light up when he saw you. He was a great daddy to you and I know he will continue to be a positive influence in your life.
Mar. 4,2010 - 10:04am
Alissa Harrington
Little one, as I laid next to you yesterday watching you sleep, I stared in amazement at your angelic face and listened to each soft breath you took. What a miracle you are! You are like your father in so many ways-your smile, your energy, your carefree laughter. I love you.
Your father was like a brother to me...infact he was like a brother to just about everyone he meet. He did not judge others, he loved unconditionally and most importanly, he enjoyed life! He had a way of making everyone around him feel important and included. We need more "Wes" in the world.
His love for you and your mom is so strong, I know he continues to be with both of you now.
Mar. 4,2010 - 09:52am
Tim Bulleri
Dear Ava,

I had the pleasure of knowing your dad for many years. He was one of my best friends and colleges in gymnastics. Your father had the best smiles and bear hugs. I loved listing to queen with him in the VW Rabbit. (Thank your grandpa Cress for always fixing the car so we could get in to things together). Another fond memory was when your father came to practice one day and he had the same jump rope that I did. The Green Jolly Green Giant Jump rope. (Your Grandma Cress and my father were the only two people I knew that saved UPC symbols off of the products we bought to get cool free toys.)

Your daddy is the type of person that even after many years I could call on the phone and it was right back to the times when we were spending 3 hours an evening practicing together.

After High school, your daddy and I decided to take a trip to James Madison University together. We both got in to the university on Scholarship and became roommates. After one semester your father decided that JMU wasn't for him and moved back home. We would see each other on Winter and summer break and catch up. It was like we never left the times alone.

I know that the love you have for your father will always be with you, as it will always be with all of his friends.

Mar. 4,2010 - 09:32am
Erin Kielman
Dear Ava,

I had the honor of knowing your Daddy. He had such a huge spirit. As said in another letter to you, he would light up the room when he walked in. He had an amazing smile and the best laugh. I truly believe that he and your Mommy were made for each other. They brought out the best in each other. The way he'd look at her was with so much love and respect. As much as he loved her, it seemed no one made him smile as much as you. You are such a bright and shinning star. I see his enthusiasm in you. His energy for life and the people around him was awesome, and I see that in you already. I know that he is with you everyday, and so proud of you now and of the woman you will one day become. He will be your angel and one day you'll see him again. Until that day, I know that your Mommy will take such good care of you. I promise to always be there for you. I know that I'm not alone in that promise. You have an amazing group of family and friends here to support you throughout not only the hard times but, the best days of your life yet to come. Keep smiling Ave, your Daddy is always smiling down on you. God bless you and your family.
Mar. 4,2010 - 12:04am
Audrey Thurman
Dear Ava,
I believe I made a mistake & was a bit off the timing abt. your Great Great Grandfather seeing you on his 95th birthday. I will get all my facts straight & will make that the first story we go over when I see you @ one of the Family reunions. The most important thing I wanted you to know was how happy your parents were to share you with all of us @ the reunions. Your Dad's smile was so nice & he was so happy as he held you in his arms & introduced you to all of us. We love you.
Mar. 3,2010 - 11:48pm
Audrey Thurman
Dear Ava,
I am a cousin related to you on your Dad's side of the Family-through your Grandmother Lydia. I had the privilege of "knowing you" before you were born. I love to go to Family Reunions--that's where I first met your Mom & Dad.
What beautiful people they were-standing together-smiling & talking about how happy they were that you were on the way.
Then @ the next reunion---there you were-your Dad was smiling & holding you--I could tell he was so proud of you.
Your great great Grandfather was also there celebrating his 95th birthday. He was so proud of "his" new baby & his great grandson. There were SMILES all around. Someday I hope we can enjoy a Family Reunion together--look @ pictures, tell family stories, especially abt. you Dad.
I know the love you shared with your Dad will always surround you---just reach for him-he will be there.
Mar. 3,2010 - 11:10pm
Brian Schisler
Dear Ava,
I consider myself fortunate to have had your Father as a friend. Sometimes this world can seem dark but there is a hand full of people who are like rays of sunshine able to burst thru that darkness and your Daddy was one of those people. He always had a glowing smile that was contagious. Your Father had a great sense of humor and a gentle soul that could lift the spirits of those around him. He has gone on to be with his Lord Jesus but, I promise you that when you come to the end of life's journey you will be reunited with him in Glory. Until then we are all going to need to shine all the brighter for his sake. And when you see that light in others just know that it is a little piece of him shinning for us all.
May Love and Grace abound in your life.
Mar. 3,2010 - 02:44pm
Dear Ava,
Since you are not quite three, everyone wants to make sure that you remember your Dad. So if one day, your memories of him start to fade, we hope you can read these letters. We hope they will help you to remember how wonderful he was, how much he loved you, and how many lives he touched.
The thing I will remember most about your dad is that he always had a smile on his face. He was always so positive and always had a way of making any situation seem conquerable. He was so energetic and he emphasized this with his animated words of “Awesome!” “Sweet!” and “No Way!”
Your Dad literally lit up the room when he walked in. Everybody who met him liked him immediately. He was so fun to be around that we always enjoyed every minute that we were together with him.
He was a great singer and guitar player and you inspired him to write many songs. Some of these songs are recorded so make sure you get your Mom to play them for you.
He was always helping someone. He wasn’t one to sit around watching someone else do the work. He would jump right in and lend a hand.
He loved watching the Raven’s and we could tell he was very proud that you would wear your purple Raven’s jumpsuit and say “Go Raven’s Go!”
Most importantly, he loved you and your Mom so very much. He definitely changed when you were born. He seemed… complete.
There is so much more I could tell you about your Dad. His influence on all of us is way too much to put down on one page. But for now I will just say…Your dad truly is a remarkable person. I say “is”, rather than “was”, because I believe he is still with you. He will be walking beside you, holding your hand, and guiding you through every step of your life.

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