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Respected friend, loving husband

Aug. 11, 1989 - Jan. 26, 2012 Nicholas James Garbarino

Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07

Nicholas

“A man who made an impact on lives and the world around him.” Nicholas James Garbarino, senior mechanical engineering major

An adventurer at heart, Nick Garbarino could make the dullest moment fun and entertaining. More than once he and a buddy took a couple of canoes down to the Brazos River with nothing more than a water filter and military rations.

Nicholas James Garbarino died January 26 after a battle with cancer. Before he died, Nick was married for a little more than a year-and-a-half to Andi Garbarino. Andi said she thought of Nick as the most intelligent and imaginative man she has ever known, but also one of the most humble.

“It didn’t matter if you weren’t even half as intelligent as him, you still felt like you were important and could totally be yourself around him,” Andi said.

Nick was the kind of person who saw people for who they are, loved them and listened to them.  

“He was the most wonderful husband a girl could ask for — he took good care of me and loved me well,” Andi said.

Nick and Andi were camp counselors when they met at Camp Peniel, where Nick was a favorite to all the campers and known as “The Captain.”

Nick loved everything about camp. He wanted to work at Camp Peniel full-time, though he would have been a shoe-in at FMC Engineering, where he was hired as a student engineer his junior year. Even Nick’s appearance was campy.

“[He] was scruffy, and fairly menacing.  The children, though, saw right through that exterior to the man who loved them, and they loved him back, shadowing and idolizing him,” said Nick’s father, Richard Garbarino.

Nick’s father met many of Nick’s friends during his son’s battle with cancer. Richard said he was struck by the diversity of those who visited Nick in the hospital, as well as at the funeral where more than 600 paid their respects.

“They shared with me their view of my little boy as a man that was loved and respected — a man who made an impact on their lives and the world around him,” Richard said. “I cannot express how much it meant to know that Nick’s life, though short, was full, and full of meaning.”

Nick was also a man of strong, definite beliefs. In his father’s words, these were not mere philosophies, but convictions that guided his actions.

Nick was a follower of Jesus Christ, and saw the complexity of the universe as inconsistent with the random, natural cosmos theorized by current science.

“Nick believed in the God of the Bible, and that God has chosen from mankind those to be His own. Nick counted himself in that number,” Richard said. “While not fatalistic concerning his illness and death, Nick reluctantly accepted that his situation was part of the grand plan of his sovereign God.”

One of Nick’s close friends, Garrett Kaiser, and his wife, Hannah, married at age 19, not unlike Nick and Andi, who were married the day before at age 20.

The two young couples were part of the same community, living across the street from each other, and Nick was quick to invite the Kaisers to his married couples Bible study.

“Nick was a life-breather, and by that I mean that Nick constantly lifted the spirits of those he was around,” Kaiser said.

Nick was thoughtful and respectful of others, though he stood for what he saw as right, even if unpopular.

“As probably the most honest and blunt person I knew, Nick really knew how to make people take a step back and look at reality how it really was,” Kaiser said.

Celeste Garbarino, Nick’s mother, said Nick loved to discuss his political opinions with anyone who would take the time to debate with him.

“He was passionate about trying to change our government for the better,” Celeste said. “He was patriotic and proud to be a Texan and an Aggie.”

Nick’s life will be honored during Silver Taps at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday in Academic Plaza.

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