A teen for all seasons

Published 5:01 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023

Johnathan Bridgeman was a force of nature; at least, that is how his family will remember him.

A few weeks have passed since 14-year-old Johnathan, better known to family and friends as Jeb, was tragically killed after being hit by a person driving a truck while walking on the side of Bypass Road.

Bridgeman’s memorial service was last Thursday at the Pritchard Chapel at Fort Knox and was attended by friends and family, some of whom traveled overseas to be there in person.

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“I will never forget the people that were there on his memorial. There were over 300 people there,” said his father, Gregg Bridgeman.

Bridgeman’s memorial started with a video of him solving a Rubik’s Cube—he was a nationally ranked competitor—while reciting Pi to the 100th decimal. True to his nature Bridgeman laughed the entire time.

“He was all about the joy and the laughter every day…He squeezed the joy out of every moment,” Gregg said.

Bridgeman was cremated, and his family plans to scatter his ashes over Memorial Day Weekend at one of his favorite places, the Creation Museum.

Jeb attended science labs at the Boone County museum over the last year of his life.

“The last lab…He toured the museum again after class, and he came out, and he said, ‘I wish I could just stay here forever; this is my favorite place on Earth,’” Gregg said.

A straight-A student, Bridgeman was known for having a quick mind.

“He could start a conversation with you, not knowing you or knowing anything about you, and figure out what you were interested in, learn everything from you about what you were interested in and become an expert in it,” said his mother, Hallee. “He could just pull information from you, and he could analyze it so fast and knew it and then wanted to do it.”

“He loved learning, and he loved challenging himself,” Gregg said.

Not only did Bridgeman love to be taught, but he also loved to teach. He was a black belt in Taekwondo and always eager to serve as an instructor for the younger members of his class.

“Part of being a black belt is that you have to become a leader,” Hallee said. “The tenants of Taekwondo were very important to him. He was very intentional at keeping them.”

Jeb loved to act and was cast as the Mock Turtle in a production of “Alice in Wonderland” that his homeschool group was putting on at the Lake Side Worship Center in Elizabethtown.

He was determined to give a unique take on the melancholy reptile.

“He had decided that the Mock Turtle needed to be Scottish,” Hallee said. “He spent three days listening to Scottish accents and spent three days walking around the house speaking in a Scottish accent, trying to be sad Scottish.”

The accent was so convincing that Bridgeman was given permission to use it when the show opened on May 18.

His fellow cast members have fond memories of Bridgeman.

“At his memorial service, several of them stood up and talked about the privilege of acting with Jeb and how talented he was on the stage,” Hallee said.

According to his father, Bridgeman “craved adventure” and loved to spend time in nature, skateboard and throw knives.

He was involved in the Civil Air Patrol cadet program and planned to attend the United State Military Academy or The Citadel.

The investigation by the Winchester Police Department into Bridgeman’s death remains ongoing.