Family and friends of Nick Gruber gathered July 18 for an evening of remembrance and a paddle out in his honor. Gruber died July 10.
The event took place on the beach in front of New Orleans Street in Dewey Beach, so there was music, a bonfire and drinking. However, the mood was atypically, but expectedly, somber. Tears were shed and hugs were shared.
About half a dozen friends and neighbors spoke in advance of the paddle out. Each of them had a story to tell about various levels of shenanigans they had gotten into with Gruber over the years. All of them said he was a mentor, a friend they could rely on, and he was always quick to pick up his phone when they called.
“Nick spent every summer night skimming New Orleans Street with his friends, so it was just fitting to have one last skim sesh in his honor right where it all started,” said Alexis Gruber, Nick’s widow. “There is no doubt he’s smiling down watching all his friends and family together in his favorite place. He was my soulmate and best friend, and I can’t thank the community enough for all the love and support they have shown me during this difficult time.”
“Nick was the type of person who always worked with you on making your visions a reality, and those people aren’t always easy to find,” said Jason Wilson, who had worked and played with Gruber over the years.
Following the brief remembrance, people gathered their boards – surfboards, skimboards, bodyboards and kayaks – for the paddle out. After a few more words in honor of Gruber, the circle threw flowers into the ocean and splashed the ocean in his honor.
Gruber’s mom Stacey watched the paddle out from the shoreline.
“This is just amazing,” she said.