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Remembering – Little girl looked out for squirrels

Avondale Estates

Remembering – Little girl looked out for squirrels


As Avondale Estates prepares to officially mourn the loss of life in an April 12 fire, one story keeps getting told over and over.

Jess Willadsen, 10, loved squirrels.

Jess Willadsen and her mom Tami both perished in the April 12 fire. Her brother, Jack, was severely burned and is in stable condition at Grady Hospital.  The visitation for Tami and Jess will be this evening.

According to an old City of Avondale Estates newsletter, the safety of the squirrels was an ongoing concern for Jess. At the age of 9 Jess wrote to Mayor Ed Rieker to inform him that there were too many squirrels getting run over on her street.

“Mayor Rieker was so impressed by the commitment Jess has to her community and our small furry animals that he presented her with her very own ‘Squirrel Crossing’ sign for her yard,” the article in the newsletter says. “Jess stated that since the sign has been up ‘no squirrels have been hurt and our furry little friends have never been better.'”

The article concluded saying, “Jess shows us that everyone can contribute and everyone can be a part of their community.”

Here is the article as it appeared in the September-October 2013 newsletter:



The funeral for Jess and Tami Willadsen is Thursday. There is a Go Fund Me account that has been established in the family’s name. As of April 16, the family has received more than $75,000 in donations.