my great uncle, Dave Nock

Jane rides their granddaughter’s toy car.

This is my great uncle, Dave Nock, who passed away today. He was a great uncle to me (as he was my Grandpa’s brother), but he was also a GREAT uncle. I struggle to put into words how I feel about his passing, but it’s worth trying. Uncle Dave is known by many monikers:

He was policeman, serving 24 years with the Amesbury Police Department.

He was an Olympic-style body builder.

He was a gym owner, owning the longest continually run gym in New England, inspiring hundreds (or maybe thousands) to increase their strength and physical fitness. He mentored teens and young people. Among the most successful of his students: John Cena. Everyone who worked out with Dave Nock or in his gym knows how big his heart was; he wanted everyone to face big challenges and to grow from them. As the gym shirts say, “It’s hard to be good; it’s good to be hard.”

He was a selfless hero — there are other occasions, and he would never ask for this kind of attention.

He also collected baseball caps, and had hundreds of them neatly lined on the walls of the garage. I have collected a few dozen already… I hope it’s not genetic!

He was intense, which he liked to call “controlled insanity.” Even in his seventies, he squatted huge amounts and pushed wheelbarrows long distances. He cycled, too.

Outside of the gym, he loved. He loved his wife (Jane), his son (Eric), his granddaughter (Cheyenne), and the extended family. He loved his dogs (BIG dogs). He loved his nephew (my father) and our family.

In the 12 years since my grandfather (his brother) passed away in May 2005, I have fond memories of visiting Uncle Dave and Jane. Uncle Dave reminded me a lot of Grandpa, and I’m thankful to have spent time with him.

As time is apt to do, it wears on the body and mind. In recent years, Uncle Dave’s mind began to fail — probably a result of breaking up bar fights as a police officer, among many other stresses he put on his body. I’ll still remember the big, strong Uncle Dave with the heavy accent carrying twinges of Boston and everything northeast.

I’ll remember Uncle Dave with a smile on my face when I’m cycling, I’ll think of his fortitude for grabbing life by the horns when I wear my Hard Nock’s Gym shirts and hat, and think of the way he inspired others to live their days with “controlled insanity.”

As my father, also Dave Nock, said tonight: End of shift. RIP, Dave Nock.

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