Aaron Brooks was remembered as a person who relished life, cruised around town on his moped and had a perpetual smile wherever he went.
"Aaron knew that if he could make you smile, you would like him," said Rick Keiser, outreach pastor at Family Life Community Church, who conducted Wednesday's memorial service for Brooks that drew nearly 1,000 people to the Galt High gym.
"He would do anything to give a smile, and he would do anything to get a smile," Keiser said.
Brooks, 15, was found dead on Nov. 5 in the southern tributary of Deadman's Gulch, just east of Emerald Vista Park. He had been missing since Oct. 26.
Salvatore Carmelo Maggio, 19, of Wilton, has been charged with Brooks' murder.
The numerous speakers who talked about Brooks portrayed him as a thoughtful, loving person who had fun doing whatever he did.
George Romano, a family friend and Brooks' coach for the Galt Chiefs Pop Warner football team, said that Brooks will be remembered for his "loving, high-energy personality with the smile that became his trademark."
Brooks balanced his great sense of humor with his sense of responsibility, Romano said.
"As parents, we couldn't be more proud of Aaron and the life he had," his father, Bernie Brooks, said.
The service included opening and closing prayers by Keiser, music by the Galt High choir and comments by Keiser, friends Samantha Lucero, Chris Duro, Nick Murray and Jessica Treizo, and McCaffrey Middle School teacher Christina Lawrie. Numerous others came down from the bleachers to offer their stories about Brooks as well.
"It's been a long goodbye for (the family), said Kim Carlucci, whose son, Nick Murray, was a good friend of Brooks.
Carlucci noted the stress the family has endured, starting with Brooks' disappearance on Oct. 26. Then came the discovery of his body on Nov. 5, a fund-raising spaghetti dinner for the Brooks family on Nov. 9 that drew an estimated 1,400, a private service the following day and Wednesday's community service at Galt High.
"I'm glad they had this for the kids because they really needed some closure," Carlucci said.
Lawrie, an eighth-grade history teacher at McCaffrey, talked about the great rapport and friendship she developed with Brooks since he was in eighth grade in 2003. He was considering a law enforcement career after taking a criminal justice exploratory class, she said.
In a story that may have produced the greatest laugh of the evening from the crowd, Lawrie told about one particular time Brooks used his new-found knowledge in criminal justice.
"Aaron frequented the principal's office for one reason or another," Lawrie said. "He said, 'Mr. Rammer, I want to be represented by a lawyer.'"
Bernie Brooks said after the service that he hadn't heard the story about his son demanding a lawyer.
"It sounds like Aaron to be able to apply what he learned," he admitted.
Bernie Brooks reflected in his remarks to the crowd about how nice it is to see so many flowers, cards and other mementos on a white cross at the location his son's body was found.
"When I walk to where Aaron's cross is, it's not a lonely place anymore," Bernie Brooks said.
Sarah Brooks, Aaron's older sister, said she wasn't surprised by the stories his classmates told.
"My brother and I were pretty well connected," Sarah Brooks said after the service. "He couldn't wait to call me about the trouble he got into."
Sarah Brooks moved from Santa Barbara to the family home in Galt just 12 days before her brother disappeared, but she takes his death philosophically.
"I have faith in the master plan God has," she said. "It's a beautiful tragedy, like a Shakespearean novel."
Brooks' mother, Mariline Brooks, said she enjoyed Wednesday's service.
"It was great; it was wonderful that we had closure together," she said.
While the evening focused on celebrating Brooks' life, a note was inserted inside the memorial service program asking people to protest what some fear could be Maggio's release from Sacramento County Jail if a Superior Court judge grants him bail at Maggio's Dec. 8 court date.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.