By Max Dupras
There are so many great things about the world we live in. From the countries of our great world coming together for the Olympics to smaller things, like one single person holding the door for another. And along with these great actions and events come even greater people (Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Amelia Earhart come to mind for starters). Many people would consider these individuals as heroes, as role models. I have many heroes and role models in my life. My mom, my grandparents, professional basketball player Jayson Tatum, and quite a few others.
However, one person really stands out as an all time hero and role model in my life. His name is Anthony Jay Dupras. Also known as TJ Dupras. Also known as my dad. Not only was he a man with a heart of pure gold, but he was also a determined and fearless leader. He was known for his dashing charisma, fair and gentle personality, and a smile that will always light up a room. This is not just an article about some random person, but an article about the man that raised me and made me the person that I am today. This is TJ’s story.
Born on November 7th, 1968 in Tucson, Arizona, TJ was the youngest Billine and Mike Dupras’ six children. He would grow up travelling from place to place for most of his life. His father Mike was an NCO in the U.S. Air Force; from his early childhood, he loved to travel. You kind of have to if you are a military kid. He traveled all across the world, from Germany to Italy to good old Trenton, Illinois. He would eventually settle in Illinois for his high school career. Graduating from Wesclin High School, he would go on to Juneau in Alaska to pursue a further education. He would regularly study whales in the brisk, Alaskan waters. After Juneau, he would eventually move to Montana.
TJ would go to the University of Montana for zoology, eventually acquiring his bachelor’s degree in that subject. There he would also meet a woman by the name of Amy Rowley. After dating for a couple years, they would eventually marry in 1998. TJ would work various jobs throughout his time in Missoula, such as a manager for the UC Theatre, a Missoulian employee, and a cashier and attendant at a cigarette shop. But somewhere in between those many jobs, he would help give life to a baby boy named Maximillian and, three years later, would also see the birth of his second son, Rowley. After his job at the cigarette store, he would eventually become a resource manager for a local company known as ALPS.
After 15 years of marriage, Amy and TJ would separate, taking joint custody of their two boys. They would continue to be great friends after this and would help raise two amazing children. Though this did occur, he would go on and live life like he usually did. Not a day went by where he didn’t smile when he went into work. TJ was the brightest light in the room. A man with no fears, no worries, and all the love anyone person could have. This would all come to a sudden halt.
May 6th, 2015 was the day that TJ Dupras and his “sister” Kalee Scolatti were shot and killed by Kalee’s husband, Nick. He would take his life soon after.
The most devastating things come so quickly and hit like a truck. The death of not only my aunt and uncle, but my father, was hard to process. And it did take a while. Did it take a while. Then, one day, I started to remember.
TJ Dupras was a man of adventure, with stories for days. He told me of a time where he saved a kid from falling off a cliff. There was another story of him traveling all the way to Australia to discover the beauties of the “land down under”. And he would make many more memories with his family. From the many hikes we went on to the vast expanse of theatrical shows we watched, my dad never ceased to bring joy and sunshine to all situations.
There are days where you think about someone you lost and it just seems to crush you. You will fight back tears and it seems like there is no end in sight to the pain of this loss. But after it all, the painful feelings start to go away. You stop remembering that person as a lost soul, but as a whole world of amazing times. Looking back on the great memories you made with that person completely eclipses their passing, because they are not truly gone if you never forget about them.
TJ Dupras was a guy many people never got to meet, but he was also a man who many people got to love. He lives on as a hero in the hearts of many, and he will continue to be in the minds and hearts of all those he loved and touched so deeply. However, we will miss that smile of yours, Dad.