John Royce Agner, 28, of Ventnor, was killed in a crash Monday on Route 73 in Winslow Township after his southbound car collided head-on with a  tractor-trailer, police said.

Family and friends said Agner, who went by his middle name, was a talented musician, a great athlete and a bright young man who will be missed by many.

His father, John C. Agner, also of Ventnor, said music was Royce’s passion.

He said his son graduated from Cherry Hill High School East, Camden County, in 2002. While in high school, Royce was one of eight New Jersey students selected to perform in the All State High School Orchestra, where he played the double bass.

“That was a big accomplishment for him and I think he would feel happy to have that noted,” his father said. “He loved his music and he was good at it.”

Royce was also a talented soccer player and started for his school team in 2001, John C. Agner said.

After high school, Royce attended the University of Massachusetts, where he majored in classical music. He left UMass before graduating and moved back to Ventnor to be close to the beach and to follow his dreams of becoming a musician, his father said.

Royce was the former bassist for the band Easy Does It, which was voted by AC Weekly as best new band a few years ago, his father said. The band had since broken up and Royce, at that time, decided he wanted to go back to school to finish his education.

At the time of Monday’s accident, Royce was driving from his mother’s house in Cherry Hill to Atlantic Cape Community College where he was taking classes for his associate’s degree.

His father said he had been talking with admission counselors from Richard Stockton College, where he had planned to get his bachelor’s degree after Atlantic Cape, with a plan of majoring in either mathematics or communication with a minor in jazz.

“He was great kid. He had lot of friends and he was an important part of so many people’s lives,” his father said.

Marty Abo, a family friend of the Agners, said Royce was like a son to him and his wife.

“I would always joke, ‘He’s the son I always wanted,’ and people would say, ‘Wait a minute, you have two sons.’ And I’d say, ‘I know, but he actually talks to me,’” Abo said. “He was a good kid, a very funny, very bright kid and a very talented musician.”

In addition to his father, John Royce Anger is survived by his mother, Sheila Agner, of Cherry Hill, and his two sisters, Elizabeth Agner, of Cherry Hill, and Dr. Shannon Agner, of St. Louis.

A viewing will be held from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Healey Funeral Homes, 1816 Haddonfeld-Berlin Road, Cherry Hill.

A second viewing will be held at Holy Eucharist Catholic Church, 344 Kresson Road, Cherry Hill at 10 a.m. Friday, followed by an 11 a.m. funeral Mass. Burial will be private.

Police said the crash, which occurred about 4:30 p.m., is under investigation. Anyone with information should call police at 609-561-3300.

Staff writer Anjalee Khemlani contributed to this report.

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