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Kevin Nurse's friends, families say goodbye

By BY J.R. ORTEGA
July 30, 2010 at 2:30 a.m.

Derek Titley, of Scranton, Pa., cries during the services for his late brother, Kevin Nurse.

A QUICK TIMELINE OF KEVIN NURSE'S LIFEFeb. 27, 1971Kevin Nurse is born in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Aug. 2, 2006Daniel Zarate Jr., dies in a car accident. His organs are donated to several people, including Nurse, who received Zarate's heart.

Aug. 3, 2006Nurse receives his heart transplant.

August 2009Nurse moves to Victoria to be closer to the donor's family and start his own restaurant.

July 23Nurse dies of heart complications.

A REPORTER'S BLOG ENTRYStanding 6-feet tall and more than 250 pounds, Kevin Nurse's build could intimidate just about anyone who crossed his path.

Truth was, behind those rough hands and that thick, booming New York accent, was a soft spot.

To read J.R.'s blog entry on meeting Kevin Nurse for the first time, visit VictoriaAdvocate.com and click the blog link in this story.

Cecilia Zarate gripped 12-year-old Hailee Nurse tight and dug her face into her neck in a continuous sob.

Kevin Nurse's graveside service Friday was too familiar for Zarate, who lost her son, Daniel Zarate Jr., in a car crash four years ago.

Zarate's son's heart was transplanted into Nurse, allowing him to follow his and her son's dream of becoming a chef.

The 39-year-old died July 23 after heart complications.

But for Hailee, her father's death was unfamiliar and fresh.

"I felt broken," Hailee said as she tried to fight back tears after the service.

Friends and family from Nurse's previous hometown in New York met with friends and the donor family in Victoria for a graveside service at the Resurrection Catholic Cemetery.

A blur of emotions surfaced under the blue tent Friday morning.

Moments of smiles and laughter met moments of sadness and tears.

"He knew everybody," Hailee said. "I know he had a lot of love."

Nurse's mother, Sonia Nurse, held together well at the service knowing that her son did what he had to do.

His mother said she did not want him to move away from New York, but after visiting Victoria, she knew why he did.

"He always liked a quiet and serene place, that's what he was looking for," she said. "I think this was the appropriate place for him to be."

His mother will continue to strengthen the bond made with the Zarates, she added.

"Words cannot describe the love they've given to Kevin," she said.

The death was particularly hard on Nurse's friend and colleague Anthony Vella.

Anthony had just moved to Victoria a week before Nurse died.

He was looking for an opportunity and found it in Kevin and Victoria, he said.

The two were in the planning stage of opening a restaurant, which had always been Nurse's dream.

"He gave me a shot and a chance to be creative," he said.

Lois Nesloney, of Victoria, felt the same way about Nurse's availability as a friend and mentor.

Nurse had commended her on her pastry work and wanted her to work with him when his restaurant opened.

"It didn't take much for him to touch somebody's life," she said.

Though Nurse's dream to open a restaurant fell short, his inspiration to make others dream is instilled in everyone, several of his friends said.

"Everybody needs a little Kevin in their life," Vella said.

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