Not the famous Nick Spooner you’ll find if you google the name, but the Nick Spooner who spent his life overcoming obstacles out of which came more wisdom each time.

Let me tell you more about Nick Spooner who made his living driving a private town car limo service. I met him in spring, 2015, after I had rolled and totaled my car. Finding myself being neurotic about driving, I crunched the numbers about car ownership and decided to stop driving. Then came the godsend recommendation from my friend Karen Noren who gave me Nick’s card. From the beginning he was “my driver,” as long as I made my plans mostly for after 11:00 a.m. and reserved him ahead of time. After all, he worked all night, so he needed sleep time. I wasn’t the only person who claimed him as “my driver.”

So let me tell you more about Nick Spooner. Like the time he drove me to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. I was accustomed to popping into the front seat and enjoying one of our interesting discussions. There was so much to learn and share about his life, his wisdom, his personal philosophy. Many times we sat for a while to carry on the discussion. That night at the dinner theater, however, he would drop me off at 6:00 p.m. No time for chatting, I started to get out of the car when he stopped me with his delightful laugh and said, “Let me get out and open the door for you. We can let people think you’re an important person.”

Now let me tell you more. On February 6, 2019, he drove me to my dentist appointment at 12:15 p.m. On our return, we sat in the car for a while as he told me his concerns that people might choose to walk home in the freezing cold weather. He remembered in body and mind his own experience of nearly dying in his teens of hypothermia making his way home as a snowstorm blew in. So he had called his referral contacts telling them not to let anyone try walking home. “Call me.”, he had said, “I’ll come and get them. It doesn’t matter if they can pay me.” That was Nick, and that was our last conversation.

He worked as usual on the night of February 6-7, among other things helping a young woman customer whose lock was stuck. That was Nick. He would make sure she was home and safe inside. As he left there, he called in a report to the police that he had spotted a car pulled off to the side of the road and waited there until he was sure officers had been dispatched. A short time later that car spotted Nick’s limo in a snowbank on the side of the road and called it in.

Nick had suffered a seizure, grateful later that he didn’t have a customer in the car. At the hospital he was eventually diagnosed with a glioblastoma – maybe more than one. Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain died a year after their diagnosis, as did my former husband Lou Affinito. Nick didn’t have a year. He died at 1:18 a.m. on March 23, 2019. Quietly, it was reported, but until those moments, he hadn’t “Gone Gentle into that Good Night.”

I received the news as I was attending a “One Day University” class on resilience- why some people overcome adversity and others do not. Nick had overcome so much with such grace. Resilience.

He was a good writer, with so much to tell. During our years of friendship, I pleaded with him to write. I do have something in a folder marked “Nick’s writings.” In his last days, he had regular entries on Facebook. I want to put together what he wrote there. Someone should know the story of his last struggles. In his last entry on March 21 he complained of falling. Just the day before he had asked, “Who would like to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot with me? I need to find a polycarbonite tool case for a project that I’m working on.” Resilience.

Would someone be willing to check for me on the legality of copying his entries and pasting them into a Word document for potential sharing? I am leaving soon for a month at sea, and I’m struggling with computer/printer problems, so I don’t have the time to do it now.



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  1. Beautiful story. Thanking you kindly. You are a marvelous story writer and I appreciate heaering from you.

  2. Knowing how important Nick, his life and story and his friendship meant to you I offer my warm thoughts. Knowing the disease from a dear friend, Nick was fortunate to really live until the end. He filled his place in time honorably, resiliantly and with genuine respect for and kindness toward people he encountered. Your short time in his company no doubt was a gift to both of you.
    Sorry,can’t help with the writing question.

    Nancy J Gustafson
  3. Mona – I am sorry for your loss. When someone becomes a close friend they are almost family. Your tribute shows how much you care. Pat

    On Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 1:52 PM monagustafsonaffinito wrote:

    > Mona Gustafson Affinito posted: “Not the famous Nick Spooner you’ll find > if you google the name, but the Nick Spooner who spent his life overcoming > obstacles out of which came more wisdom each time. Let me tell you more > about Nick Spooner who made his living driving a private town car” >

  4. No I had a truly lovely piece of time with Nick, Mona. So sorry for your loss

  5. I meant NOW:)

  6. So sorry to hear Mona. Seemed like an incredible guy!

  7. A beautiful tribute, to someone who seems to have been a kind and beautiful humam being. May light eternal shine on him

  8. What a wonderful friend you had in each other. So sorry for your loss. I’m sure you will miss his good nature, wisdom and laugh.

  9. Thank you for your recount of Nick’s persona and last days.

    I went to high school with Nick. I’m not sure how much he has told anyone about those days. Things were very rough in his life. Many years later, we ran into each other through an online computer bulletin board called Top City. We didn’t know until a group of us met up for coffee, that we were old lost friends, as we went by handles rather than our names.

    We kept in touch from time to time after that, through more trials and tribulations. But, through it all, Nick smiled and persevered, always concerned about other people, and cats. We haven’t talked in a couple of years, though. I was looking for him on Facebook to see if we could get together to catch up, when I saw the sad news.

    I am so glad he found so much happiness, finally, in his life. I’m only sorry it ended so soon. We are too young for this.

    I’d love to talk further, and I’d love to read Nick’s writings.

    Does he have a will? That would dictate who has say over his writings. Please email me at I may be able to help with finding the legal way of sharing his written works.

    • Thanks for this too. I don’t know anything of his personal affairs, like wills and things. I just know I”d like for him to be appreciated as he should have been all along. I’ll be in touch with you, though it may be a few days. Just got back from a month away and, of course, everything has piled up.

  10. While searching for information on Nick, I came across his note to the family of our high school principal. I will share the words here, as it was heartfelt and I think it gives you a little bit of sense of his early days.

    To the DeLapp family,
    All of a sudden, I’m flooded with memories of Washburn upon reading about Mr. Delapps passing.

    I attended only one year (my senior) at Washburn, and unfortunately, I was one of his “handful” kids, minor trouble-maker, not following the rules, skirmishes with the law, etc. A handful. And, a troubled kid living in a grouphome. Suffice it to say that I spent quite a few hours in his office, explaining why I had done, or not done, any number of things.

    Looking back, and I hadn’t until now, I can see that Mr. DeLapp must have stuck his neck out for me and believed in me. When I should have been kicked out of school, I wasn’t. I was always given another chance. Because of Mr. DeLapp, and the teachers he hired, I found the strength to start believing in myself. The educators he hired had a huge amount of compassion for a lonely, scared kid, who was terribly behind on the credits I needed in order to graduate with my class. I was giving up, but they wouldn’t, and that reflects mightily on the kind of man Mr. DeLapp was.

    It is said that a few words spoken with care by any one of us, can so deeply impact, that it can change a life. I just want you to know that the few words spoken by Mr. DeLapp actually spoke volumes to me! Of the few people in my life who’ve made the biggest impact, Mr. DeLapp was one of the last, and greatest gifts to me. He showed me it’s ok to ‘care’ when I pretty much didn’t anymore. He did absolutely change my life.

    I never got the chance to thank him. Thank you, Mr. DeLapp! Thank you so much!

    Nick Spooner

    April 06, 2011 | Shakopee, MN

  11. What a beautiful tribute! I’m saddened to hear about the loss of your friend.

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