Jay Leo Winterford (Jacob Ray Pekarek)

April 6, 1993March 10, 2021

Jay passed away unexpectedly on March 10, 2021, breaking the hearts of their family, friends, and all those who loved them. They were 27 years young.

Born Jacob Ray Pekarek in Fort Worth, TX, Jay grew up in Grapevine, TX, and Kingwood, TX. Jacob loved the outdoors and camping with all his friends and family from an early age, especially if his dogs Molly & PJ were there. Jacob had a beautiful smile, big blue eyes, and a delightfully infectious laugh. Jay was an honor student, an orchestra and academic letterman, and one of the Top Ten Students in the Class of 2011 at Kingwood Park High School.

Jay was one-of-a-kind, a unique character. In addition to loving philosophy and having a sharp mind, Jay sought meaning behind all things. Jay was smart, curious, clever, and liked sharing knowledge with others.

After starting as a philosophy major, Jay declared: “Stand Back -- I'm going to try Science!” and then earned a BS in 2015 from Trinity University, double majoring in Math and Chemistry. Jay was a member of the “Swashies" of Myrtle dorm, enjoying going out for pizza and Indian food, debating philosophy, hosting Haunted Halloween, playing Minecraft, and solving the world’s problems.

Jay enjoyed playing games -- especially when winning. Jay was fond of cooking, experimenting, and playing with animals. Jay would wear shorts in a blizzard, celebrate Pi Day, make incredible costumes, and laugh out loud at The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Jay loved to have adventures and travel to see friends and family. There were lots of trips to Kerrville, Colorado Springs and Big Bend with Mimi, Papa & Mom. Jacob also spent many happy times in Westminster, Katy, Calgary, Spokane, and Nederland with Dad and Jeannie. This love of travel and adventure continued when Jay lived with friends on a sailboat in the Berkeley Marina, and, afterwards, in Zurich. Jay moved to Estes Park in 2018, where they often hiked in the park, camped, or just visited with good friends in Estes, Boulder, Longmont, and Denver.

The world has truly lost a gem.

Jay was preceded in death by loving grandparents, Ronald C. “Papa” Withers & Peggy J. “Mimi” Withers, and Richard L. “Grandpa” & Faye D. “Grandma” Pekarek.

Jay is survived by loving family and friends around the world, including their mother, Katrina D. “Katy” Withers of Kingwood, TX, and father, Gary R. Pekarek & step-mother, Jeannie Pekarek of Nederland, CO; step-sister Lauren Smith; step-grandmother Jeannie Cheek of Tampa, FL; step-grandparents George & Dr. Pam Herrera of Ft Lauderdale, FL; uncles, Mark C. (Kathleen) Withers of Alpine, TX, and Jay (Linda) Pekarek of Longmont, CO; aunts, Lisa Pekarek & Cindy Pilkington of Nipomo, CA; nieces Krista & Kylie Smith of Gainesville, GA; cousins, Krista Pekarek of Golden, CO, Kayla Pekarek of Durham, NC, Kara Myers of Greeley, CO, Phillip Biggs and Paul Biggs; great-aunt, Annie Pearl Biggs; four sets of Herrera aunts & uncles; and nine cousins in GA.

No memorial services are planned at this time. Please consider a donation in Jay's name to Out Boulder County, or The Carter Center.

Please visit to share a memory of Jay and leave a message for their family.


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Jay Leo Winterford (Jacob Ray Pekarek)

have a memory or condolence to add?

Lisa Pekarek

March 26, 2021

I am so very sorry for the loss of this lovely human. I didn’t get to spend much time as I would have liked with Jay and I hadn’t seen them in a very long time. I’m incredibly sad that I will never have the chance to know the adult they had become. Even through the distance, Jay, you were loved and thought of frequently. I hope all of the people you’ve left behind will be comforted by happy memories of their time with you. There is a giant Jay sized hole in all of our hearts. Rest easy now, sweet Jay. We miss you.

Jeannie Cheek

March 25, 2021

Special loving healing Prayers surround you and Jeannie in the loss of your Son Jay🙏🙏❤️❤️🙏🙏❤️🙏🙏❤️🙏🙏❤️
No words can express the unbearable Heartbreak you are experiencing now💔
I remember Jay, when he was 10 years old, visiting us in Suches,Ga, North Georgia Mountains, and had the experience and delight of enjoying our life in a National Forest❤️❤️❤️ Very different from his regular lifestyle❤️❤️
GOD AND TIME HEALS OUR BROKEN HEARTS and memories will keep us remember the great times we did have to share ❤️❤️
If Tears Could Build a Stairway and Memories a Lane, I’d Walk Right Up to Heaven and Bring You Back Again 💔❤️💔❤️💔❤️💔❤️💔🙏🙏🎶🎶❤️❤️
Many Special Prayers for you and Jeannie ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️💔🙏❤️🙏💔❤️❤️

Krista Pekarek

March 22, 2021

I was heartbroken to hear of cousin Jay's passing. I have fond memories of camping, family get togethers and of times when we were kids. It's hard to grapple with where life takes us, but I know that Jay was loved. Even though it was years since I last saw them, I loved Jay and I am so saddened by their passing. My heart goes out to Katy and other family affected by their passing. I hope you are well supported by the friends and family around you.

Mark Sykes

March 21, 2021

Katy: Clyde and I are heartbroken to hear the news of Jacob's passing. We can't imagine what you are going through right now, and although we realize that there's very little that can be done by others at a distressing time like this to ease your pain, rest assured that you are in our thoughts, dear friend.

Joann Welton

March 19, 2021

Katy - My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. Jay was such a kind and caring person. I remember him participating in the Race for the Cure in 2008 and thought you would enjoy having this memory . Jay was a beautiful human being and I know you were so proud of him. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. jo

Lucia Perez

March 19, 2021

The loss of Jay a wonderful, inquisitive human being, causes our hearts to break. May the family and friends take comfort in beautiful memories and know that Jay is at peace. Jay’s smile was infectious and his soul, perfect. Be at peace Jay and know you are loved by many.

Marian Freeland

March 19, 2021

This photo of Jacob with his mom, Katie, & his grandfather, Ron, is how I remember him. I hadn’t seen him in many years but he was a sweet young man & we enjoyed it when he came to the Big Bend to see his Uncle & Aunt (my sister & brother-in-law). I’m praying for all of his family to be supported by the strong arms of the Lord carrying them through each day & comforting them minute by minute.
Love & prayers,
Marian Freeland

Victoria Seale

March 19, 2021

Jay (Jacob) was a very kind, wonderful, and talented young man. The world has lost a gem. He will be missed. Prayers and thoughts for Katy and Mark and all who loved Jay.
Victoria Seale

Mark Withers

March 19, 2021

Our memories of happy times with you will always be a blessing to us. We love you Jay.

Kathleen and Mark

Sam Steup

March 19, 2021

I only ever knew Jacob through scouting, but they were always a warm, rational, calming presence. I have many fond memories of just sitting and talking with them, whether around a campfire, on a log in the woods, or 10,000 feet above sea level. They had a great, full sense of humor, and a delightfully infectious laugh.

I learned from Jacob that you can be goofy, wise, calm, and playful all at once. Rest well, friend. We miss you.


Eagle & Hornaday project 2008 - Protecting Our Waterways


Navy Pier 2013 - checking out Chicago


1 year old - big kid now


Columbia ice field, Alberta


Lily Lake 2019


Withers Family


The Pekareks


Stories from Kandersteg and Zurich