Family and friends remember a laughing, loving young man

Estancia graduate Bubba Kapko, 19, touched many people during his life.

By Lindsay Sandham and Elia Powers
The Daily Pilot
August 31, 2005

Even as a child, Brian “Bubba” Kapko had a magnetic personality that won over friends, teammates and even strangers.

While at Angel Stadium for Little League Appreciation Day, Kapko — no more than 5 at the time — was accidentally left behind by trip chaperons.

Adults panicked. Kapko didn’t.

He wandered around the stadium, schmoozing with food vendors and ushers who stayed after the game.

“He could have befriended the meanest person there,” said Mike Scheafer, a family friend and former Costa Mesa city councilman.

Kapko, 19, died in a car accident early Sunday while traveling to Denver with four other people after a volleyball tournament in Boulder, Colo. A student at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, Kapko was the only person to die in the accident.

Kapko’s older brother, Matt Kapko, said he always liked to try new things.

Bubba Kapko — a 2004 graduate of Estancia High School — was an Eagle Scout. 
He played football throughout high school and was captain and MVP his senior year. He also was active in student government, in drama and in track and field.

“He was just taken away too soon,” Matt Kapko said. “I looked forward to so many more years with him.”

Matt Kapko said the family traveled to Denver on Monday to collect Bubba Kapko’s things. Although he had moved there only two weeks earlier, his Colorado friends told them many stories.

Matt Kapko said when the accident happened, the five boys in the car were singing along at the top of their lungs to “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day, Bubba Kapko’s favorite band.

“I took him to his first Green Day show last November,” Matt Kapko said.

He said his brother was nicknamed Bubba by family friend Jim Ferryman, a former Newport-Mesa school board member.

“He was a Bubba. He was a big little kid,” Matt Kapko said. “Most people didn’t even know him as Brian.”

Soon after news spread of Bubba Kapko’s death, his friends used a social networking website — — to express grief and share their favorite stories and memories.

Devon Metkovich, who will be a senior at Estancia this year, started the Web page. She said what she’ll remember most about him is his laugh.

“He had the most contagious laugh ever,” she said. “Whenever he would laugh, everyone would start laughing…. If you were ever feeling down, he was there to pick you up.”

Randi Golden, 18, a UCLA student who was friends with Bubba Kapko in high school, said there was a group of students that hung out together every day during their sophomore year. She said they would go to Pick Up Stix restaurant and order the house chicken and sit by the pool and goof around.

“I’m not even kidding — we went every day,” she said.

Many of Kapko’s friends remember his love of movies and his ability to recite favorite lines.

“We used to recite lines from movies and make each other bust up laughing,” said longtime friend Andy Sturla, 20, of Costa Mesa. “Bubba was such an amazing person, and I was glad to have gotten to know him throughout the years.”

Kapko was also notorious for his hugs and his sense of humor.

“He’d give you hugs all the time, whether you wanted them or not,” said Chris Greeley, 19, another childhood friend of Kapko’s. “Now that I look back, I’m going to miss that.”

Joy Prebyl, 19, of Irvine said it’s the hugs that she’ll miss most.

“He has one of those hugs where he’d just take over your whole body,” Prebyl said. “Nobody has hugs like Bubba…. He wouldn’t let go until you knew that he loved you.”

She also said Bubba Kapko could make a joke out of anything, that he would do whatever was necessary to get a laugh.

Clairisa Maygren, 20, a student at Chico State, said the most amazing thing about Bubba Kapko was that he was friends with everyone. She said when he died, all his friends showed up to mourn his loss. She said people who usually don’t get along were standing arm-in-arm, grieving over the mutual loss of a beloved friend.

“Bubba was the person who brought everybody together,” she said.

Scheafer visited with the Kapko family at their Costa Mesa home Sunday. He said dozens of high school friends stopped by to pay their condolences.

Bubba Kapko endeared himself to Scheafer with his humorous antics during youth sports competitions. Scheafer coached Kapko for years in local leagues.

“He was like my fourth son,” said Scheafer, whose youngest son, Eric, was the same age as Bubba Kapko. “He was as much a part of my family as my boys.”

The Scheafers created a scrapbook called “Bubba’s Book” that contains pictures of him throughout the years.

“He really had the best 19 years you could possibly have,” Matt Kapko said. “My parents, they’ve given us everything we’ve ever wanted…. They were so proud of him.”

Scheafer, who called Bubba Kapko “Curly” as a testament to his shaggy hair, has started a memorial fund in Kapko’s name.

“This kid’s spirit cannot die,” Scheafer said. “It has to live on.”

Funeral services for Brian “Bubba” Kapko are scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Newport-Mesa Christian Center, 2599 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Brian “Bubba” Kapko Memorial Fund, c/o Costa Mesa Federal Credit Union, 2701 Harbor Blvd E-6, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.