Danny Cox often told his mother that he didn't think that funerals should be sad, suggesting that a clown be invited to each of them.
And on Sunday, his own memorial service at Petaluma High School's Durst Field certainly contained humorous moments, albeit mixed with deep sadness over his sudden passing when his treasured Dodge Magnum crashed into a tree north of Novato.
The turnout reflected the deep feeling for the 19-year-old Cox that developed during his battle to recover from a diving accident in Lake Tahoe last August that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
More than 1,000 people attended the service on the bright, sunny day, and many came adorned in black and yellow, Cox's favorite colors.
"I thought that it was fantastic. I couldn't have asked for anything better," said Chris Cox, his father. "I was moved that so many people in the community came out for him. I'm the proudest father in the world."
One of the highlights of the service was a walk around the track in Danny Cox's honor.
"I came up with the idea that morning, because he loved running and he loved the track," the father said.
He was among the walkers when he felt a surge of inspiration.
"I thought, &‘If Danny were here, he wouldn't be walking: He would be running,'" Cox said.
So, Cox, feeling the same lively spontaneity so often displayed by his son, began running between people, and his daughter, Emily, 25, soon joined him.