By Jeff Noble
Thursday morning, family, relatives and friends said farewell to Jesse Bruce Disney.
Inside the solace of the chapel at Hart Funeral Home in Corbin, they came to remember the gifts he brought to those that loved him — his talents, his compassion, and most of all, giving of himself to others in his circle of life.
At 27 years of age, Jesse Disney’s life was tragically cut short last Saturday.
He, his fiancé, her three children and her unborn child, and two sisters staying with them for the night, perished when their house on Sam Parker Road in the Gray community of Knox County caught fire.
Inside the chapel, large picture frames showed a collage of photographs taken over Jesse’s short life span. Some showed him graduating with pride from Lynn Camp High School. Several pictured him in a chair with a guitar in hand and a harmonica at his side, bringing his gift of music to those around him. His parents, his grandparents, uncles and aunts, and other family members were also displayed as yet another one of his gifts — his love of his big family.
Also, pictures of the children he and his fiancé, Nina Asher, shared their love and life with were seen. All moments on film with memories of good times and deep devotion to Nina, Will, Camden and Abby.
Between the pictures, some of the floral displays of sympathy and sorrow, and his open casket, a group of singers began the service. They sang of comfort because “Far away is a land where there will be no heartache.”
Pastor David Johnson then spoke. He looked at those sitting in the pews, then looked at Jesse’s parents, Wess and Rita Disney, and the rest of their family.
“I want you to know that I share so deeply your grief, your sorrow, and so many of your friends and family share it with you,” Johnson told them.
He noted that Jesse recently showed his love of Johnson’s church, and shared his time doing electrical work on several projects there. He brought up Jesse’s love of combining the sounds of music and the spoken words.
“He loved music. He not only played the guitar, but the harmonica in my church. He had a love of God. That tells a lot about Jesse,” said Johnson.
The pastor, who told the audience he never had a son, spoke again to Jesse’s parents in appreciation for the son he never had.
“It’s hard to sit here and speak to you all. Wess, I thank you for sharing your sons. I love your sons and I love Jesus.” Johnson then gave a word of prayer, saying, “Lord, we look forward to the day we can reunite with Jesse.”
Without instruments to back them up, the small choir of three then quietly sang an old favorite hymn, “Go Rest High On That Mountain.”
As they sang, many tears were shed from those inside the chapel.
“This is a very difficult day. One of the most difficult that we’ll ever walk through in our lives. Seems like only a week we were happy. Today, we’re very very bleak, very sad and very empty. It’s a hard day,” said Pastor Kevin Roach.
In his message, Roach pointed out there were two questions people ask themselves and to others during the last few days — “Why does something like this happen? And where do we go from here?”
He quoted a Bible verse, John 11:35. “’Jesus wept.’ I’ll tell you why he wept. Because it wasn’t supposed to be that way. … And where do we go from here? Take time to be thankful for the blessings in your life. For 27 years, Jesse brought blessings to the people in his life,” said Roach.
The pastor spoke of Jesse’s kindness, his being gifted, and his love and respect for his family.
“He loved kids, and kids loved Jesse. He would come in a Sunday school class and listen to those kids. They really loved him. He loved to grow things in the garden. He once told someone he grew so much broccoli he could feed half of Knox County. He loved to sing, play guitar and the harmonica. He once played the (Billy Joel) song ‘Piano Man’ for me. Any man that could play ‘Piano Man’ on a guitar, that’s quite an accomplishment. He loved his family. He loved being a part of a big family. And he loved his Lord,” Roach noted.
In his closing remarks, Roach spoke to those in the chapel and to Jesse’s family in particular, about what he called was the promise of help.
“It’s one of the most difficult days we’ll ever walk. No doubt about it. Jesse is not lost. You know where he is. In his Father’s hands.”
He followed with a prayer.
“Father, pray for this family today. Thank you for his life. It was too short. He was a blessing to us,” asked Roach.
Many of those who attended the funeral service would go on to the Disney Family Cemetery, where Jesse would be laid to rest. One by one, they slowly walked to where the family was sitting, and paid their respects to them and to their late son.
Before they went outside, several looked up at the many pictures on display one more time.
For some of them, their eyes began to moisten up.
During this entire time, music was heard over the speakers. At least three songs were heard, possibly more before only the family members left. It was a familiar sound, one of a guitar, a harmonica, and a voice.
One song in particular — Neil Young’s 1972 hit, “Heart of Gold” — was a gift.
The recording of the music, and voice, came from Jesse.