MOUNT VERNON — “Finding true happiness takes time but as long as you live each day thankful and positive then nothing can stop you from achieving it!”
Nick Remillard posted that message on his Facebook page on May 24.
The 20-year-old East Knox grad and Kenyon College employee is being remembered this week as an athlete and a colleague — but, most importantly, as a friend.
“If you ever needed anything, he would not hesitate to help out,” longtime friend Kyle Stump said. “He did not like to see anyone upset.”
Stump grew up with Remillard. The two were friends throughout childhood through their high school years. They were teammates in baseball at the Minor League and Major League levels, and they were teammates on three undefeated Mount Vernon football teams.
Even though they eventually went their separate ways — Stump attended Mount Vernon High School — the pair always kept in touch.
“Our families are close,” Stump explained. “He (Remillard) was always trying to get everyone together for cookouts. He always tried.
“He was one kid who never changed as he grew up.”
Remillard was never a superstar on the field, but he was a solid part of some larger units. In seventh grade, he joined the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets as a linebacker and defensive lineman. He and Stump, along with the rest of the team, would not know a loss through the ninth grade.
He was undersized — different rosters list him from 5-foot-3 to 5-foot-7 — but Remillard packed a wallop.
“He was strong,” Stump recalled. “He lined up and he went after you.”
By his sophomore year of high school, Remillard had devoted his time to baseball, and he grew in talent to become the Bulldogs’ top pitcher and leadoff hitter by his senior season. He played in all 27 games that year, pitching in 10 of them. He finished his senior year 2-6 but led the team in innings pitched (34) and strikeouts (41), earning him the EK Pitcher of the Year award at the team’s banquet.
At the plate, Remillard had 22 hits in 95 at-bats and — remarkably, especially for a leadoff hitter — was second on the team with 16 RBIs. Even more amazingly, he had zero strikeouts.
“I’d never had a player like that who never struck out,” said Kevin Gallwitz, Remillard’s coach at East Knox. “He was very competitive. He hated to lose. He used that to motivate himself to battle through situations — not just in baseball, but in life.”
Remillard enrolled at Wittenberg and intended to play baseball there but left after one year.
Since then, Remillard took up pet-sitting. He watched several neighbors’ dogs and walked them frequently, occasionally taking his “furr-babies” to the dog park in Gambier.
“He always enjoyed himself, and he always enjoyed having everybody around,” Stump said. “I never saw him mad. All the years, I never saw him mad.”
Gallwitz last spoke with Remillard just a few weeks ago. The coach had been clearing stuff from his office and found a photo of Remillard pitching that had been published in the News. He brought it to Remillard’s home and caught up with his former pitcher.
“I thought he’d like to have it,” Gallwitz said. “You just never realize. … I was glad I did see him.”
Stump, who attends Tiffin University, last spoke with Remillard in October. It was after Stump underwent surgery, and Remillard came by to cheer him up.
What did Remillard talk about?
“He was trying to get us together for a cookout,” Stump said. “He always wanted us to get together.”
“As we mourn, we remember a young man who defined his time here with love that extended in all directions,” posted friend and fellow athlete Clay Curts on a GoFundMe account established to raise money for funeral expenses. “His love of baseball drove him to his dream of playing the sport at the collegiate level. His love of his Great Dane, Apollo, built a bond between them that was evident to everyone they met. His love of those around him brought countless friends.”
Friends may call Friday from 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. at the Flowers-Snyder Funeral Home, 619 E. High St., Mount Vernon. A funeral service will be held on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Spirit, 102 College Park St., Gambier. The Rev. Rachel Kesler will be officiating.