Caleb Harlan Wanaka
April 24, 2004 – June 28, 2021
Our beloved son and grandson has passed into the heavenly realms at the age of 17, joining his mother, Jaimie.
Caleb was a young man who showed leadership, sportsmanship, and love to those he knew. His best friend was his father, Harley, and their shared passion for baseball was an inseparable bond. He recently put his love for his dad into words on beautiful birthday and Father’s Day cards. “I want you to know that I appreciate all you do for me. Thank you so much for everything. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today without you. You make me a better person, and I will always try to make you proud. I will forever be grateful to you.”
At this young age, Caleb found a beautiful friend in Jilian, his girlfriend, with whom he had great plans. They were a beautiful couple, and the memory of the love they shared is a gift to hold onto.
Caleb’s grandparents, Jim and Barbara Rogers, helped raise him, and their care was the best one could ever wish for. Cindy Vander Ark deeply influenced his life, giving him much love and many valuable lessons along the way.
Caleb was blessed with love surrounding him, and he passed that on in abundance to his family and friends. The dad of one of his best friends commented recently that Caleb would often lift up his son and give him encouragement. As a mentor to others, he influenced many of his teammates, classmates, and younger relatives. At 6’5”, he was definitely looked up to.
Planning for college, his goal was a scholarship and placement in a baseball program. A gifted baseball player ( first base, third base, pitcher), he won numerous baseball honors and awards. In May, 2021, he was voted an Athlete of the Year by the Tacoma Athletic Commission. He truly treasured his brotherhood of baseball players, having many close friends who played together through the years.
He loved country music, and could often be heard singing in the shower. As another interest, he was considering a career in criminal justice. At times he grew his curly brunette locks long to be like his dad, and his infectious smile could light up a room. An important part of his life, his Golden Retriever, Gracie, would always joyously welcome him to his grandparents’ home.
We are so very blessed to have been part of his life, and there are no words that describe our loss, nor the depth of our love for this amazing young man. “No words, only broken hearts wrapped in tears”. A family friend wrote, “He is beginning the greatest journey of his life.
May he continue in the heavenly realms and fulfill his ultimate dreams.
Family members include his father Harley, Vaughn, WA; Cindy Vander Ark; Grandparents Jerry and Carmen Wanaka of Desert Aire, WA; Grandparents Jim and Barbara Rogers of Gig Harbor, WA; Brothers Josh (Victoria), Enterprise, AL; and Sean, Kent, WA; Uncle, Norris Wanaka, Vaughn, WA; Aunts, Lisa (Rick) Monsigneur, Sorrento, BC; and Laura Barfield, Sherman, TX; Uncles, Jeff (Nancy), and Brian (Trisha) Rogers, all of Mercer Island, WA. Caleb leaves four nieces, and numerous cousins. He was preceded in death by his mother, Jaimie Wanaka.
A public memorial will be held at 7:00 PM at Peninsula High School Baseball field on Friday July 9, 2021.
Interment at Haven of Rest Memorial Park, Gig Harbor, WA.
Remembrances may be made to Peninsula High School’s Caleb Wanaka Scholarship Fund by clicking on the link below. There are multiple ways to donate. All funds will go to the scholarship.
Or mail donation to:
PHS Baseball Boosters
C/o Hope Brandt
CW Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 908
Wauna, WA 98395
Donations may also be given to the Caleb Wanaka Memorial Fundraiser
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Caleb Harlan Wanaka, please visit our floral store.