Friends remember LSU graduate lost at sea

POSTED: Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 5:33pm

UPDATED: Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 6:53pm

BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) -- It's been two weeks since a recent LSU graduate went missing the Pacific Ocean. Friends and family of Jame de Brueys gathered Thursday to remember his life.

The 22-year-old was known for jumping into life head first. "He kind of just put his fears and his hesitations on the back burner and just looked at the bigger picture and went for it time after time," says good friend, Jess Smith. She's known James for over two years.

Smith says it was James' love of adventure that took him to the Marshall Islands. He began working as a teacher for WorldTeach back in August. "He was excited about life and excited about everything that he did," says Smith.

It was near the Marshall Islands that James went missing. He was boating with three other people from the small island of Arno Atoll to Majuro, the main island, for Thanksgiving dinner. His boat never showed up. The US Coast Guard found his boat overturned, and later, the bodies of two of the other passengers on board. The Coast Guard called off the search on Friday. "I know there are a lot of people hoping and praying that he's still out there, just pretending to be a castaway," says Smith with a smile.

Family and friends paid tribute to the young man who was always the life of the party. Family asked people attending the memorial service to dress in color to honor James' colorful personality. "He told somebody once that he wanted his funeral to be fun because you can't spell funeral without fun, and so I think he wouldn't want everybody getting together in black and crying. It was just the way that he approached life. He'd want this to be another good time, another party and so...no black."

Smith says James was up for anything, from playing a good prank on his best friends to entering a beard competition in Alaska. "He was just a really special person," she says. "The type of person who made everybody a better person just being around him."

For now, family and friends say goodbye to James de Brueys;  brother, son, grandson, friend,  world traveler, jokester, adventurer, teacher, student, and so much more with the hope that someday he will come home.

"I think we're always going to wonder," says Smith. "But we're closing this chapter for now."

Friends and family are throwing a party to honor James tomorrow night at the Chimes. It begins at 7pm. There will be a fundraiser for the projects James wanted to do on the Marshall Islands. Friends can customized t-shirts for $20. The proceeds will also go to projects on the Marshall Islands, like building a basketball court and an outhouse at the elementary school where he worked.

You can also donate to WorldTeach at www.worldteach.org. Be sure to specify that you want your donation to go towards James de Brueys' projects.

For more updates on James' check out his facebook group called Bring James Home here:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_180502121964013&ap=1

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