MAGGIE VALLEY — Jorja Adeline Aumen was born in Haywood County on Aug. 30, 2001. At 10 pounds, she came into the world a little larger than life, although she spent her first seven days in the NICU because of a possible seizure. She was by far the biggest baby in the NICU, and her family swears that she had the prettiest blue eyes. Those who knew her later in her life would not have argued with that.

Jorja learned to walk a little late, but she seemed to learn to run at exactly the same time. She was fast. And she was brave, a quality that manifested itself more strongly as she got older. At Tuscola High School, she joined R.O.T.C. because she wanted to fly fighter jets. She cut her own hair. She pierced her tongue. She got tattoos. She wasn’t afraid to try anything.

Jorja was talented in many ways. She could cook a pan of biscuits, then turn around and bushhog a field as well as any man. She learned from the best: her daddy, her mama, her Pappy TJ, her Pappy Roger and her Uncle Ernie, who gave her the name “Babycakes.”

Jorja was kind and tender-hearted. Over the years, she dragged home Max, Waylon, Ravi, and any other dog who seemed to need her. Last summer, she even made friends with a crow.

Jorja had a keen sense of observation. She would quietly watch, learn, then jump in and just do it, no matter what it was. At her family’s beloved Cataloochee Ranch, she was often found standing over the outdoor grill cooking dinner for guests, or in the kitchen preparing breakfast and lunch.

Jorja’s family wants to share another important fact about her: She suffered from depression. Although she had recently agreed to begin therapy, her mental health issue got the best of her, and she passed away on Sunday morning, March 15, at the age of 18. The family hopes that her story will provide a wake-up call for others: If you’re depressed, or if somebody you love is suffering from depression, don’t take it lightly. Please get help before it’s too late.

Jorja is survived by her father Alex Aumen and wife Ginger, her mother Ashli Aumen, her twin sisters Vivian and Sarah Aumen, her grandparents Roger Edwards and Jean Edwards, her very special Uncle Eduardo “Wardo” Villaveces, her very special “Auntie Tracy” Edwards and her grandmother Alice Alexander Aumen. She was the great-granddaughter of Ranch founders Mr. Tom and Miss Judy Alexander and had recently been living in Miss Judy’s house.

May we remember Jorja with that sparkle in her big, Alexander-blue eyes, climbing into the cab of her big red Ford truck, and always laughing. Happy trails, Jorja. Until we meet again.

The care of Jorja has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Homes and an online memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at www.wellsfuneralhome.com.

To plant a tree in memory of Jorja Aumen as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.
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