Joseph Thomas Bones II, better known as JT, was born April 14, 1996, at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Reno, Nevada, and died Nov. 25, 2018, due to injuries sustained in a car accident.
A lifelong resident of Portola, JT’s school years encompassed Head Start Preschool, C. Roy Carmichael Elementary School and Portola Junior/Senior High School, where he graduated in 2014. He attended Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, from 2015 – 2016.
While in high school, JT played junior varsity and varsity basketball 2011 – 2014 and varsity football in 2014. He relished his role as the Portola Tiger mascot in 2013.
JT enjoyed his involvement with the Youth on Fire (YOF) group at the New Life Christian Center (Assembly of God) in Portola, led by Lance and Lynnann Benbow. During his junior high and high school years he attended Acquire the Fire conventions held in Sacramento. JT also loved the annual YOF summer trip to Yosemite and faithfully worked the car washes and Christmas tree sales to fund that favorite event.
Armed with a work permit at age 15, JT began his work career at the Graeagle Restaurant in 2011, where he remained employed until September of this year. Owner Ed Ward, a vital presence in JT’s life from the beginning, was a beloved mentor JT looked to for guidance and direction.
JT loved animals and they loved him. He worked at the High Sierra Animal Shelter 2014 – 2015. He proved to be an excellent dog sitter and provided care for other pets as well. He also adopted his well-loved best 4-legged companion ‘Cocoa’ into the family.
After his stint at college, JT took a seasonal job at the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort (2016 – 2017). He worked the lifts with some of his high school buddies, and as roommates they commuted together from Portola to Tahoe. The enthusiasm of those same friends propelled him into snowboarding, a sport he quickly grew to love.
His heart’s desire was to be a firefighter and JT accomplished that by first becoming a volunteer firefighter with the Graeagle Fire Department in 2016. This year, 2018, he began his rookie season with Wood Fire and Emergency Services and worked the Carr, Hirz, Ferguson, Camp and Woolsey fires. Owner Cindy Wood said the engineers would almost “fight” over JT to be on their team.
Those who knew and loved JT describe him as “a free spirit full of love.” His joy and happiness were contagious, and others felt better just by being around him. He had the ability to lift spirits and make others laugh as they looked at life through his eyes. Being with JT guaranteed special and joyful times.
Even while doing daily tasks or working one of his jobs, JT embraced life with anticipation and excitement. That became especially evident when he was going to one of his favorite places. Las Vegas topped his list of exciting places, while the ocean captured his favorite spot for serenity.
JT grew up in a very close family, raised in the same town as his parents and where his grandparents still live. His family did everything together, which not only included JT’s parents and siblings but his grandparents and uncles and aunt from Reno. His parents often included many of JT’s friends, making them “family” as well.
Survivors of JT are parents Lisa and Tony Hartwig; father Joseph Thomas Bones and wife Lisa Bones; siblings, Daphne Bones, Claire Hartwig and Leon Hartwig; grandparents, Richard and Kathy Eisenbeiss; grandfather Lauren Hartwig; uncle, Nick Hartwig; uncle, Richard Eisenbeiss II; nephew, Seth Eisenbeiss; uncle, Nicholas Eisenbeiss; aunt and uncle, Sarah and Jesse Hibbs; and niece, Lyric Hibbs.
For those privileged to know JT, they enjoyed the awesome experience of knowing a kind-hearted and loving young man. Fortunate are the ones who shared in the special life of this joyous and wonderful person. To all who knew him, he will remain a legend.
The celebration of life for JT Bones will be held Sunday, Dec. 16, at 1 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 449 W. Sierra Avenue in Portola, with a reception to follow.