Friends and family will gather Dec. 4 to remember James Robert Kinler Jr., a 27-year-old Medford man who died when his speeding car hit a light pole after missing a curve on Fourth Street not far from downtown on Nov. 20.

Friends and family will gather Dec. 4 to remember James Robert Kinler Jr., a 27-year-old Medford man who died when his speeding car hit a light pole after missing a curve on Fourth Street not far from downtown on Nov. 20.

They recall a man who had struggled with drug use and other legal trouble, but, through his deep faith in God, got his life together to take care of his family.

Kinler and his fiancée, Codi Czirban, were raising two boys, Jaxin, 8, and Jordin, 9. Czirban said she and Kinler met in 1998, two years after Kinler, his parents and siblings moved to Medford from Washington.

Czirban left the Rogue Valley, then returned and fell in love with her old friend four years ago, just as he was trying to leave a life of crime and drugs and get on track.

"I never thought I could fall in love like that or be so loved," she said.

She recalled how he would get up early, at 4 a.m. some days, to start her car for her before she left for work. She would go out to find her car warmed up and K-LOVE Christian radio playing music to encourage her.

He would get the boys ready for school, letting them watch the Cartoon Network as they prepared. Then they would all walk to school together, Jaxin said.

"He was the greatest dad in the whole world," Jordin said. "I loved him more than anything."

Kinler was born in Piqua, Ohio, and grew up in Cathlamet, Wash. He was the youngest of four children and played baseball, wrestled and played drums in the school band, his mom said.

Gale Kindler said her son always had a deep connection with and concern for his family and his friends.

His memorial will be at noon, Dec. 4, at Rogue Valley Christian Fellowship.

The 2 a.m. crash remains under investigation, police said. The Jackson County Sheriff's Department, which was called to handle the case because a Medford police officer had attempted to stop Kinler moments earlier after seeing him speeding and running red lights, expects to finish their investigation next week, although toxicology tests may take longer to complete.

Besides a number of felony convictions for driving offenses, Kinler had four convictions for attempting to elude police, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records. He also was convicted on possession of methamphetamine charges six times between 1999 and 2005.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.