By Elly Cosgrove | April 25, 2021 at 10:28 AM EDT – Updated April 26 at 6:41 AM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A memorial service for Jessica Embry, a beloved teacher, friend and missionary, took place Saturday at Lifepoint church in Wilmington. On Sunday, the community celebrated Embry’s life in the ocean at Kure Beach.
Embry died last Sunday, April 18th, while trying to save children caught in a rip current at Kure Beach. The town’s police department says Embry helped save the children, but ran into trouble in the water. People on the scene tried to give her CPR on the beach, but were unsuccessful.
Embry jumped in the water to save lives, and just a week later, friends, family and loved ones also jumped in the ocean at the same beach access. This time, however, it was on surfboards to celebrate Embry’s life. Many say that’s how she would have wanted it to be.
“Jessica loved the ocean,” said Lifepoint pastor Jeff Kapusta. “She would not want us to view the ocean as a place of mourning, she would want this to be a place of celebration. So today was a way of honoring not only her sacrifice, but even her love for the water and for the ocean.”
Embry was also very involved with Lifepoint church where she volunteered and served on the worship team. She also poured her heart and soul into mission trips to Uganda.
However, it was evident at the paddle out on Sunday that her influence and reputation extended well beyond those circles.
“When we were sitting out there on the water, the question was asked how many of you knew her personally,” Kapusta said. “And about half the circle knew her personally, the other half knew of her.”
Current and former orchestra students paddled out, including CJ Tyson who Embry taught how to play the cello.
“She was just kind of always with me throughout my whole life pretty much until now,” Tyson said. “She’s always been kind of like not only a music teacher, but also like another mom I would say.”
Even though Embry may be gone from this earth, the swell on Sunday was a sign that she is still riding right along with those who cared for her.
“We celebrated her and threw the roses in the middle and everybody’s, you know, splashing the waves to celebrate her and let her know that we love her,” said Ben Richardson, Embry’s friend and volunteer at Lifepoint church. “And right at that time, really the biggest swell of the day starts coming in and to us it was just like God acknowledging there’s a wave of change coming and its just people loving eachother and serving eachother and it just felt like one last nod to all of us here that are left behind.”
“And then a big wave came and we were like that’s Ms. Embry… that’s Ms. Embry,” said Hana Hagestrom, an Ashley High School orchestra student.
A memorial fund has been created in Embry’s honor to donate towards the organizations and endeavors that she was passionate about at Ashley High School, Lifepoint church and across the globe.
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