GROVETON, TX (KTRE) - The Groveton and Centerville ISD communities came out in masses Tuesday afternoon to honor the life of 7-year-old Tuff Jennings Welker. He died last Thursday night after he accidentally got tangled in a rope swing and strangled to death.
"From the time we got him, he was just a good kid. He was all boy. He was a dare-devil," said Thomas Welker, Tuff's Dad.
"He was just a really happy kid. He wanted to please you, he was funny, and he always wanted to make you laugh," said Gracie Brown, Tuff's teacher.
With heavy hearts, Groveton and Centerville ISD filled the gymnasium to celebrate the life of an angel.
"It didn't hurt just his class. It didn't hurt just a few people. It hurt everybody," Brown said.
The loss of Tuff brought tears.
"They didn't take it too good. It was rough. Our principal did a great job breaking the news to them," Brown said.
The memories of him and his high spirits brought laughter.
"We'd gang up on the couch and watch Spongebob, and if it was on for three hours, we were going to watch Spongebob for three hours," Thomas said.
Tuff's father said there is so much more to Tuff's story.
"Before we got him, he had gone through more than some do their whole lives," Thomas said.
Tuff was adopted two years ago. His father said his name was a reflection of his character and strength.
"We read his history and what all he had gone through, and I told my wife he's a tough kid. She said that's his name. Tuff," Thomas said.
"I think he's just so lucky to have gotten the parents he got because from the time he came to my classroom he was a sad scared little boy," Brown said. "His parents loved on him, and he just became such a happy little thing."
Tuesday's memorial was full of the music that helped Tuff overcome the life that he had put behind him.
"At night, he would get scared and my wife would let him listen to her Ipod," Thomas said.
His teachers said this love and support was to be expected.
"We're such a close community. We're such a close school that everybody knows everybody, and everybody loves everybody," Brown said.
His parents said the community support is helping them cope with the loss of the young man who will always have their hearts.
"There's nothing we can say. There's nothing we can do. We're so sorry, we love you, and then they leave. That means a lot. Just that," Thomas said.
Tuff was born March 15th in McAllen Hidalgo County, Texas.