KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Friends of Nicholas “Nick” Strange organized a vigil to remember him.
The vigil began at 5:00 p.m. Saturday at Bearden High School’s memorial garden. Those that attended brought bring flowers, candles and their memories of Strange.
“I could look at him and he could tell if I was having a bad day, just as much as his family and friends. He would make sure you were happy and you were O-K. He would go out of pocket just to make sure you got what you wanted,” said Kaylee Himes, Strange’s girlfriend.
They shared a love for “expensive food” and could be happy at dinner, at the movies, or just talking to each other. Himes said, “I was thrilled because I had literally had a crush on him since I was fifteen. Our first date was Smoky Mountain Brewery and I haven’t stopped seeing him since.”
The vigil remembered Strange through stories ranging from his time as a little boy to the first time he messaged his girlfriend over Twitter, at the time he was the “cool Senior”, Himes said.
Strange was shot and killed Wednesday in the parking lot of a Weigel’s gas station at 3104 W. Governor John Sevier Highway. Knox County Sheriff’s Office said Jason Patrick Nasca, 41, shot Strange following a verbal altercation, then shot and killed himself. Deputies say information they gathered on the scene indicates the two men did not know each other prior to the incident.
In his own life, he was diagnosed with Leukemia as a child. Today, cancer free, he was a mentor for children at the hospital. He was a volunteer at Children’s Hospital, where he would take his own Xbox to play with kids.
Jane Pelehach, one of the organizers of the vigil, said she was friends with Strange in middle school and went to high school together at Bearden High School.
“He was funny and had a unique sense of humor,” said Pelehach. “He was a fighter for battling cancer as a child. He was different than others but that didn’t stop him from being himself.”
Thirty friends and family members came to the vigil and stayed sharing memories until after dark.
Himes said, “He was my best friend, soul mate, I mean if anything was going on I could come to him and he would help me in a heartbeat.”