It seems impossible to overstate how much those who knew Bishop Angelo William Nicolaro will miss him.
"The most wonderful person I have ever, ever met in my whole entire life and we're going to miss him," said neighbor Ann Smith.
For years Father Bill, as he was called, led the Holy Apostles Catholic Charismatic Church in Dunedin.
Wednesday he and his son William got caught in a rip current off Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina.
Nicolaro was taken to the hospital where he died of a heart attack.
Sunday was the first time his parishioners gathered since his death.
"My father, he's a very, very good loving caring man," said son William Nicolaro. "You can just feel the love that these people have for this man."
He was in the water with Father Bill when the rip currents took them over.
"I was there, I was the one in the water when this happened and if could have saved him in some way I would have," said Nicolaro.
Father Bill, who is survived by his wife Mary Ann and their five children, was in North Carolina celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
His son described him as a man of family and faith.
"He would just share himself, he was a humble man, he would share his love of God but he wouldn't push is love of God on anybody," said Nicolaro.
Neighbors say his kindness was not limited to those who attended his church.
"He was kind and thoughtful, anytime we needed help he was there," said Smith. "He was just so soothing and so nice to talk to and he wasn't judgmental."
Soon the New Jersey native will be laid to rest, there's no question he'll be missed.
"My dad was a very God loving man who cared a great deal about people," said Nicolaro.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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