It was with deeply mixed emotions that I read the story about the scholarship being created in Lacee Shupe’s name. Lacee is so deeply imprinted on my memory and in my heart that seeing her picture and reading her name bring back a flood of recollections - bright, vivid, and joyous, but for the one where I learned that she was gone.
Lacee was one of the first students I met when I began the JROTC program at Douglas High School, and she made an immediate impression: a Lucille Ball-kind of crazy redhead that was so overflowing with life and enthusiasm that she nearly glowed. She entered a room like a tornado, and she left a wake behind her wherever she went. She was loud and energetic, excited and exciting and excitable. Lacee was a force of Nature, and you ignored her at your own peril. I got to talk to her extensively on a FFA trip to Las Vegas my very first year, and she showed that she was country from her hair down to her boots. Her love for her mother and for animals — especially horses — were deep and undeniable.
I learned that I could count on her to keep her word, and I could depend on her to help out anyone in need, a skill I asked her to use several times with other cadets. She taught me a lot about the school, the community, and what life in the Carson Valley was like. I couldn’t actually get mad at her, no matter what she did — and she did try me many times. She had an impish smile and a warm and giving heart that sometimes hid behind a rough exterior, but no one whom she called a friend ever had a truer friend than Lacee.
I attended her graduation party, and she would stop by to say hello whenever she was on campus, usually helping out with FFA, especially horse judging.
She gave back twice what she got, in so many ways.
I had to dedicate a desk drawer to her to keep some chocolate on hand to satisfy her sweet tooth — even after graduation.
She touched many people in her short time on Earth. She made an impact on many lives while she was here, and through the scholarship, she will touch more even though she is gone. Thank you, Lacee, for being a part of my life, and thanks for letting me be a part of yours.
Master Sgt. Gary M. Collier, Ret.