Zeke and Haley Wilson

Zeke Wilson (pictured with his wife Haley) lost his life on July 27 when his parachute malfunctioned during a BASE jump from a cliff on the Portuguese island of Penha d’Àguia.

On July 27, Rossville resident Haley Wilson lost her husband Zeke in a tragic parachuting accident in Portugal.

Thirty-five-year-old Zeke Wilson, says Haley’s mother Heather Kelly, lived for the moment. “There was always a smile on his face. He loved parachuting and was working toward becoming a certified instructor.”

In addition to his wife, Zeke Wilson is survived by his two children, ages 7 and 3.

Wilson had visited Portugal in May, says Kelly, and was eager to return with his wife so she could see how beautiful it was. “They met skydiving friends there in July and were going to go to London next.”

The Wilsons’ trip together was to the Portuguese island of Penha d’Àguia. Zeke Wilson had planned a BASE jump. BASE jumping involves jumping from a fixed object, like a building, bridge or cliff, rather than from a plane. Kelly says Wilson had just started BASE jumping within the past year.

Wilson’s parachute did not fully deploy when he jumped from a cliff and the wind-tossed him back against the rocky surface, fatally injuring him.

The day of Wilson’s death, Haley, a stay-at-home mom who helped some with her husband’s painting business, posted on her Facebook page an excerpt from a book called “Pillow Thoughts II” by Courtney Peppernell: “You can’t skip chapters, that’s not how life works. You have to read every line, meet every character. You won’t enjoy all of it. [S]ome chapters will make you cry for weeks. You will read things you don’t want to read, you will have moments when you don’t want the pages to end. But you have to keep going. Stories keep the world revolving. Live yours, don’t miss out.”

“Haley sees beauty in everything,” says Kelly. “She loves people. She is so thankful for how supportive everyone has been through this.”

The Wilson family has no insurance to help cover costs related to their loss. Kelly says the family’s church, Battlefield Church of the Nazarene, has been helpful, as have family, friends and even strangers. A GoFundMe page has been set up with a goal of raising $10,000.

Donations have been accumulating from people who know the Wilsons and from many who do not. One gentleman donated $50 on GoFundMe and left a note that said, “I used to be a painter.” A painting company donated $500.

Another donor of $500 wrote, “Words can do no justice to the person Zeke was. I am so, so sorry for your loss.”

One of Zeke Wilson’s last Facebook posts was a video book he compiled for his wife. “… thinking about how blessed I am with Haley Wilson,” he wrote. “Can’t wait to put my arms around you again darling!”

The video book reads: “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who dreamed of living a fairytale, with bad eyesight and poor judgment. By magical chance she smiled at a boy, they quickly fell in love, he was ugly, but funny. Love abounded, her wishes came true.”

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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