Jordan Jacob Werdal

Born: Mon., Dec. 2, 1996
Died: Tue., Jul. 3, 2018


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Music by The Piano Brothers


Jordan Jacob “J.J.” Werdal, 21, of Choteau, a construction worker and state high school wrestling champ, died July 4, 2018, from injuries sustained in a one-vehicle rollover on U.S. Highway 287 seven miles southwest of Choteau.
A vigil service will be held on Wednesday, July 11, at 10 a.m. in the Choteau High School gymnasium with the funeral service at noon. A reception will follow at the Stage Stop Inn convention center.
J.J. was born on Dec. 2, 1996, at Plentywood to Rick and Jennifer Werdal — the youngest of three brothers and one sister. He started out with white-blond hair and stayed a sunny tow-head — the only one in his family.
He started elementary school in Scobey and then moved with his family to Fairfield while he was in kindergarten. After his second-grade year, his family moved to Choteau, where high school teacher and coach Steve French was known throughout the region for his outstanding wrestling program.
J.J. joined his Choteau class as a third grader and graduated with his friends and classmates in May of 2015.
Following in his older brothers’ footsteps, J.J. started wrestling in the AAU and USAW youth programs when he was just 4 years old. He was impatient to be allowed to compete because his brothers, Jesse and Cole, were already in the programs and competing on the mats.
He continued to compete in these out-of-school programs through elementary school, but joined Coach French’s junior high wrestling team as a fifth grader. He wrestled every season thereafter for Coach French through junior high and high school.
Known for his quickness, his compact strength and his agility, J.J. was a four-time state placer in the Montana High School Association’s All Class State Wrestling Tournament. As a freshman, he took sixth place; as a sophomore he won his 130-pound weight class in an 8-7 victory to become a state champion — joining his brothers who were both state champs as well; as a junior and a senior, he wrestled in the championship match and took second both times.
His senior year, the CHS Bulldogs won the state tournament. J.J., wrestling at 138 pounds, had a season record of 40 wins and just four losses. He scored 21 points in the tournament to help make the Bulldogs state champions.
A two-sport student athlete, J.J. also played football all four years of high school, where he was a linebacker, playing a key role in the Bulldogs’ defense.
J.J. loved being a part of the CHS wrestling and football teams, working hard for the wins and for his teammates. He was an unselfish athlete who displayed exemplary sportsmanship, whether winning or losing.
His senior year, he was offered several college wrestling scholarships, but ultimately he turned them down, ready to move on to the next phase of his life but unwilling to spend time in college before he knew what he wanted to do for a career.
J.J. was known for his fearless, all-in approach to life. He tackled new skills with gusto and was willing to work hard to achieve his goals. His father remembers how long he spent trying to master barefoot water skiing — and he would have if the boat hadn’t broken down. J.J. loved being out on the water. Some of his best times were spent water-skiing, wake boarding, swimming and inner-tubing with his family and friends.
He got his first summer job when he was 13, working for Hodgskiss Seeds in Choteau, and then worked various summer jobs all through school. He loved to help out with brandings at ranches in the area during the summer.
After graduating from high school, he went to work on road construction with M.A. Deatley Construction Inc. That job took him to Washington and other places, and while he enjoyed seeing new places, Montana called to him.
At the end of this past May, he left Deatley Construction and came home to Choteau. He worked a few other jobs in the region and just two weeks ago secured a new equipment operator job with Williams Civil Construction in Great Falls — where his high school football coach Lucas Gunderson works.
His family says they think he would have made construction a career because it allowed him to work outside and played to his strengths — his mechanical aptitude and his enjoyment of building things. He learned woodworking from CHS instructor Mark McCormick and enjoyed making beautiful furniture for family and friends.
J.J. loved a lot of things in life. He loved dogs and brought home his black lab, “Jeb,” even after his parents said no. Not too long ago, he added “Jax,” a pit bull, to his family. He was very good with animals and loved little kids.
In 2014, when his older sister and her family lived in Choteau, he would help his niece, Ricaela, who was only 18 months younger than him, round up her younger siblings and he would give them all a ride to school in his truck every morning.
He will be remembered as a bubbly, positive, outgoing young man, who enjoyed flirting with all the girls and teasing his brothers and friends. He made friends easily and went out of his way to cheer anyone up who was feeling down. He was always ready with a helping hand.
When he wasn’t having fun on a lake somewhere, he enjoyed going out with his brothers, hunting big game during the fall, and fishing a little during the summer.
He had a great sense of humor and was proud of his Ford F-250 pickup truck, which he fondly called, “Taylor,” maybe for singer Taylor Swift. He liked to play rap music, much to his father’s dismay. He enjoyed cruising main street with his music turned up, taking advantage of the sub-woofers he installed. He also adored his dad’s Harley Davidson motorcycle. Someday he would have had his own.
J.J. had a strong independent bent. Some would even call him bull-headed, but he had a kind heart too. He loved his family and his friends.
He is survived by his parents, Rick and Jennifer Werdal of Choteau; his brothers, Jesse and Cole Werdal, both of Choteau; his sister, Rikki Kindler of Great Falls; his grandmothers, Eileen Werdal of Choteau and Virginia Tennant of Glendive; his grandfather, Ted Tennant of Richey; nieces and nephews, Ricaela Flom, Jade Kindler, Kaide Kindler and Tyler Seibert, all of Great Falls; and many other relatives.
He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Melvin Lloyd Werdal, and an infant cousin, Wyatt Tennant.
Cremation has taken place under the direction of the Gorder-Jensen Funeral Home, and a family gathering to spread his ashes is planned.
Memorials are suggested to a fund in his memory at Choteau High School, in care of First Bank of Montana’s Choteau branch.

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Patsy and Gary Betcher
   Posted Wed July 11, 2018
Jesse, Cole, Jennifer and Rick,

I don't believe there are words that can describe or ease the sadness that you are each experiencing. JJ's quick, easy smile and that twinkle in his eye made him so likeable. It is heartbreaking to think of his life ending so soon.

Please accept our heartfelt condolences and know that we have fond memories of JJ and wish each of you peace.

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