Nov. 18, 2000-May 5, 2020
Funeral services to celebrate of the life of Wes Rollo will be Saturday, May 9 at 2 p.m. at Parc Natchitoches located at 4515 University Pkwy, Natchitoches. Burial will follow at the American Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 5-9 p.m. Friday, May 8 in the chapel of Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home.
Wesley Aaron Rollo, son of Jeff and Sonya Rollo, was born Nov. 18, 2000, in DeQueen, Ark. He lived a short and spectacular life of accomplishment and inspiration. He was saved at the tender age of eight. It was his sincerest of hopes, and one that has proven to be his most exemplary success, that through his battle with cancer he would inspire others through his faith to draw themselves closer to God. On the morning of May 5, 2020, he found his place at the feet of his Lord and Savior.
As a lifelong resident of Natchitoches, he attended Weaver Elementary, NSU Elementary and Middle Laboratory Schools, Natchitoches Central High School and completed his freshman year at Northwestern State University. Throughout his academic career his infectious good nature made him a favorite of classmates and teachers alike. As was his way, he gave more to his community than he took.
A St. Jude’s childhood leukemia survivor, a recipient of the Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Scholarship for two years at NSU, an inspiration to all who knew or knew of him and his story; his impact far exceeds his years. His life, through “Team Wes” as he battled and beat cancer during his middle school years, drew our community together like nothing else has — like nothing we are likely to have the privilege of witnessing again.
He emerged from that miraculous battle an incredibly strong and determined young man, as is reflected in his innumerable accomplishments. As a middle school, high school and college angler he didn’t settle for being good. He made himself into a truly elite fisherman. With numerous first place finishes to accompany many more in the top five, 10 and 20, he was named a Bassmaster High School All-State Honorable Mention in 2018. Unsatisfied by that lofty accomplishment, he was named to the 2019 Bassmaster All-State and All-American teams, the latter an honor reserved for the best 12 high school anglers in the United States of America.
Remembering his roots and the trials that propelled him to the top of the sport he loved, he started the “Cajun Christmas” for the Ronald McDonald house in Memphis, Tenn. He also found the time to take pediatric cancer patients on fishing trips even as he worked his way to the top. His plans for the future included starting the W.A.R. (Wesley Aaron Rollo) Foundation. He intended that it focus solely on children with serious diseases or conditions, it’s mission to introduce them to the joy of fishing.
Once again, as was his way, he used the platform he earned with God’s grace as a cancer survivor and elite angler to influence and inspire countless others, not just here in our tightly knit community, but literally across the country. There have been but a very few that served so admirably as ambassadors for Natchitoches, and perhaps none that managed to do so as well or as thoroughly as Wes in the little time he was afforded.
While most young men and women have friendships and connections everyone can recognize as true and meaningful, Wes’s were by any standard exceptional. Perhaps in part due to the hardships and losses he endured, but also a result of the singular character he was unquestionably granted by God and that was lovingly molded by his parents, he was by all accounts unequaled as a friend, mentor and role model.
His sudden passing has left his family, friends and hometown, as well as the wider communities of those associated with St. Jude and bass fishing, shocked and saddened. After all he had overcome it is hard to accept God’s plan in cases like this. Looking at all the lives he touched in his short time on Earth and the inspiration he gave those he knew, or knew of him, leaves no room for doubt that his was a purposeful life, however; a life to be rewarded.
Wes is survived by his parents, Jeff and Sonya Rollo; maternal grandparents, Theron Starnes Sr. and Helen Starnes; paternal grandparents, Don and Gloria Cannaday; aunts and uncles, Louis and Bridget Briley, Chad and Melisa James, Melony Starnes, Shaun and Shelly Bennett, Trey and Angie Masson and Dewayne and Lisa George. He is also survived by the love of his life, Maeli Usleton. Finally, Wes’s legacy would not be justly presented without mention of his beloved Labrador Retrievers, Dakota and Gunner. We cannot leave out his precious friend and loudest, most dedicated cheerleader, Michelle “Mo” Longlois, who supported Wes in every single thing he did, including shaving her head in solidarity when he was having cancer treatments.
Wes was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Charles Rollo Jr. and his uncle, Theron Starnes Jr.
Those honored to serve as pallbearers will be his high school fishing partner, Will Powell and his college fishing partner, Maguire Parker (whom will wear their jerseys in Wes’s honor); special brothers, Johnny Ledet and Zach Norwood; best friend since forever, Brady Sers; and his most amazing and closest friend, Mason Pitts.
Honorary pallbearers are his friends who supported him through so much, who will hold their rods and reels in the air touching to provide a path to his final resting place.
Honored to perform his service is the Rev. Chad James, Wes’s uncle. His aunt, Bridget Briley, will read the obituary and aunts Shelly Bennett and Missy James will share special thoughts and memories. Sonya and Jeff will eulogize their son.
In lieu of flowers Wes’s family asks that donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or to a scholarship fund being created in his honor supporting the Northwestern State University bass fishing team.
The family would like to thank Steven Hines for penning this wonderful and touching obituary. No one could have said it better than he. We love you Steven and are forever grateful.
A special tribute from the Natchitoches Times staff. We were privileged to follow your successes and dreams through our pages. You touched more lives than you can imagine. Final cast May 5, 2020.