Kalem Fulton Rouse
Kalem Fulton Rouse was born April 8, 1991, in Blytheville, Ark., to Rodney M. and Kim Dolores (Bellers) Rouse. Kalem has two daughters, Shiloh Alston Rouse born to he and Penny McCluskey on January 4, 2011, and Layla Grace Rouse born to he and Amber Malin on August 17, 2014
Kalem is survived by his two daughters; both his parents; one brother, Joe Marshall Rouse and two nieces, Addie Mae Rouse and Aubrey Jane Smith; his Aunt Kathy (Bellers) Fauber and Uncle Skip, Chanda Ibos and her husband JB, Uncle Brad Rouse and Aunt Claire, Aunt Debra Rouse Whaley and Uncle Vance, Aunt Betina (Tina Rouse) Bell and Uncle Jeff. He is survived by all his cousins: Parker, Isabella, Rex and Ashley; Dana Rouse Long and her husband Brian and children Riley and Dylan; Cory Robertson, Kelli (Robertson) Carroll and her husband Tony and their son, Cotton Rouse Carroll, McKenzie Rouse Cluck and her husband Aaron and children Ansley, Sophia and Addison, Braedon Grey Bell, and Christian Thomas Bell. Kalem is also survived by his beloved Rubye Wilcox. Rubye began caring for Kalem when he was four months old and has worried with us and prayed for him every day since. Kalem considered Rubye his only surviving grandparent.
Kalem was preceded in death by Joe and Dolores Bellers, his Papa and Granny; by Junior Rouse and Bill Wilcox his granddaddies; and Betty Rouse Carter, his Mems.
And, a nearly countless group of loved ones and friends.
The family and friends of Kalem Fulton Rouse would like to express our deepest and most sincere thanks and gratitude to the entire Piggott community and surrounding area for the overwhelming love and support you've all shown and for holding us up during our time of grief. The tributes to Kalem came from all directions and in forms and from some people we'd never met. We count this small community, all our friends and family as life's most treasured blessings. And it's obvious now that Kalem felt the same way. Sincerely, Rodney, Kim and Joe Marshall.
I'm standing here over my youngest son thanking GOD with every breath that he didn't take both my boys that night. I'm thanking GOD with every breath that he didn't take Chad Dunlap too. For those that are going to want to talk and speculate about what happened that night, and turn it into something it wasn't, I'm going to set the record straight here and now. That truck had three of the best young men in this county in it. Three great friends that loved each other and were just out enjoying what was supposed to be just another short adventure. While I mourn Kalem in a way I could not have imagined, and I wish God had said YES when his mother and I laid in that ditch and begged God to let us take Kalem's place if he wouldn't bring him back, I now realize that we've been given a yes several times during Kalem's life in almost identical circumstances and this time, for reasons we will never understand, the answer was no. So we choose to thank God for Joe and Chad. To lose them all in one blow would have just been much too much. It would have turned this previously unimaginable, still unbelievable raw pain that we are all suffering from the loss of Kalem into something that would have ruined lives and could have literally turned this small village into and emotional waste land. We are determined to not be The Sad Family that everyone talks about years from now. Joe Marshall and all my baby girls don't deserve that and we can rest assured that Kalem would absolutely NOT want this to be the end of joy in our life, nor would he want it to be his legacy. So we carry on because he would not want to be the rock that we break ourselves against.
How do you sum up a life that was eight days short of his 26th birthday? When most of us look back on our own accomplishments at 26 we'd probably say it shouldn't take too long to wrap it up. After all, how many people can you touch in that time? How many laughs can you cram in? How many close talks with friends AND with strangers can you have? How much love can you give? How much love can you receive?How many ducks can you kill? And really, how many real adventures can a guy really, really have by the time he's 26? The answer to all those questions for Kalem Fulton Rouse turned out to be a lot, a load, a ton, a lifetime full. This is not exactly what he said, but Paul Hoggard told me one time years ago that he believes we are all born with about the same number of steps, bites, puffs, drinks and chances. Some people measure life out in stages and can make it last, and some people use them up in a hurry. Kalem lived his life like a roman candle. He was too hot to hold and you could never be sure when the next blast was coming, how bright it would be or if there were any left at all.
Kalem put it all on the table every time. He put it all on the line when he met a pretty little red-headed preacher's daughter named Penny and he was never the same. They are connected on a level that we knew would survive all the trials they faced during their young lives in one way or the other. It's been said that love IS passion, IS obsession, IS something you can't live without. Penny was Kalem's passion, his obsession and she made his journey complete.
As his mama and I laid in bed last night and cried she said, "I guess our baby was just too big for this world" and I said, "yes I guess he was Sugar, and I guess we've all always known it". If you loved or cared for Kalem you worried about Kalem because he wouldn't give you any other choice. The only way to quit worrying about Kalem was to quit loving him and we all love Kalem so much. He didn't expect anyone to worry and didn't want us to because he didn't. When I was walking around Kalem's house Monday morning just observing how he'd arranged his life inside his own little space I noticed he had a sticker about eye level on his refrigerator door and it included these tenants for a good life:
* live with intention
* walk to the edge
* play with abandon
* choose no regret
* appreciate your friends
* do what you love
* live as if this is all there is
Almost without exception when we'd all be together people would start telling stories about an adventure they'd had with Kalem or one of they'd witnessed. I used to get pretty suspicious about the authenticity of the account, but eventually there would be someone speak up that saw it happen. I’d think, “Well, there you go.” Knowing what I've seen him do myself why would I question anything. His mama is right, He was too big for this world. When he was 10 years old he jumped off a ski lift on Snow Shoe Mountain to pick up a pair of Oakley sunglasses someone had dropped in the snow 20 feet below. He volunteered to clear the baby snakes out of the water standing in Phyllis Morgan's storm cellar so they could all get in it. When a storm was knocking the TV antenna out of focus he volunteered to get on the roof to adjust it so Mike could get a better picture to see the weather. He was thrown from wild horse when he in the 9th grade and nearly broke his neck on a cross tie and spent four days in the hospital before his memory came all the way back.
Kalem Fulton Rouse you taught us all more than we could have guessed about caring and loving and living. Kalem’s Papa called you wonder boy because we were always wondering where you were. We know your spirit is with God now. We have no doubt of that. You were baptized in the Saint Francis River you loved and now we will let you rest on the Black River by the cabin you enjoyed so much.
“Where’s Kalem?” We’ve asked a million times.
He’s on the river.