NORTHFIELD — Friday’s funeral service for Daniel Tavarez focused on the generous, garrulous way he lived his life, not its sudden ending.
“He didn’t have much but what he did have he was always willing to share with you,” said Herman Whitaker, a minister at Atlantic City’s Union Baptist Temple, who led the service at the Adams-Perfect Funeral Home on Friday afternoon in front of about 35 people.
Tavarez, 45, was struck and killed July 9 as he crossed Absecon Boulevard from his home at the High Gate Apartments complex on his motorized scooter to get millk for a friend. Police said the motorist who struck him fled.
Leo Strazzeri, 45, of Galloway Township was arrested and charged in Tavarez’s death Thursday. His attorney has said he was not the driver.
Whitaker only briefly discussed the arrest, saying “We thank God for bringing that driver of the car to justice,” he said to murmured agreement and amen. He added, “There is no hiding place for the Lord. If you make your bed in hell, He is there.”
Instead, Whitaker, a part-time security guard at High Gate, recalled meeting Tavarez and talking about the gospel. His favorite verses were Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus’ reprimand for those who judge others while ignoring their own failings, Whitaker said.
And while Tavarez suffered from a variety of health problems, Whitaker said they never stopped him from being a cheering presence to others.
Family friend Nicole Harrison said that Tavarez died getting milk for her and her babies. More than a week on, she could barely believe he was dead. He was her best friend, she said, and he had plenty of room in his heart for others.
“Whatever shape, form, or color, it didn’t matter,” she said. “He loved everyone.”
She recounted how Tavarez helped her when she recovered from her two rounds of cancer treatment. He took her daughter for rides on his scooter to pick up medical supplies, helping the teenaged girl care for her mother. He even took her daughter to Bally’s Atlantic City, where they were promptly kicked out for her daughter being underage.
She took some comfort, she said through tears, that “no matter where you go and what you do, Danny is watching you.”
Tavarez’s uncle, Tommy Adams, 59, of Galloway Township, recalled his nephew as a little baby. “He was always a caring soul,” he said.
One friend, Clarence Scott, said that he considered Tavarez his brother. Scott, 48, a resident of the resort’s Bungalow Park section said, “I was very proud to know Danny. He made me a part of his family right away.”
Karen Johnson, another friend from High Gate, said that Tavarez was at her door constantly. “It was so hard, his not being around, that I started going into withdrawal.”
While he died almost two weeks ago, she said he would never completely disappear. “Trust me, his spirit will be with us,” Johnson said. “I love you, alright? I love you, Danny.”
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