Dominic C. "Nick" Selvi, an instrumental music teacher and accomplished saxophonist who taught in Harford County elementary schools, died Friday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson of Stage 4 rectal cancer. The Abingdon resident was 36.
"He was embraced from the moment he got here, and for the last two years since he was diagnosed with his illness, the congregation cared for him and his family," said the Rev. Nicholas M. Bufano, pastor of Jarrettsville United Methodist Church, where Mr. Selvi was a member.
"He was just a super guy and people loved him, and his loss is felt by everyone here," Mr. Bufano said. "And he had a great sense of humor."
The son of Carlos H. Selvi, a Baltimore County police officer who lives in Lutherville, and Mary Doyle, a retired postal investigator who lives in Bel Air, Dominic Carlos Selvi was born in Baltimore and raised in Fallston.
Mr. Selvi discovered his love of music at an early age, and he went on to become an accomplished saxophonist, which was "his primary instrument," said his wife of six years, the former Melanie Johnson, a former educator who is now a nursing student.
While a student at Fallston High School, he played saxophone in the symphonic, jazz and marching bands and earned the position of marching band drum major for the 1995-1996 academic year.
After graduating from Fallston High School in 1996, he attended Harford Community College and then transferred to Towson University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in music education.
During his college years, Mr. Selvi played and wrote arrangements for saxophone, keyboard, percussion, flute and horns in multiple Baltimore-based bands, including The Kelly Bell Band and Kustom Blend.
From 2006 until 2013, Mr. Selvi was an instrumental music teacher at Forest Lakes Elementary School in Forest Hill, where he also directed the fourth- and fifth-grade bands and orchestras as well as Harford County's only elementary school jazz band.
"Teaching was his true calling, and he loved introducing children to the joy of playing a musical instrument and showing them how much happiness music could bring to their lives," said his wife.
"His students described him as funny, inspiring, fun, energetic, enthusiastic and unforgettable," she said. "Nick often took his young performers 'on the road,' leading them in performances at locations such as nursing homes, restaurants, bookstores, music festivals, the Harford County Farm Fair, and Aberdeen Ironbirds stadium."
"He was wild and eccentric and he taught like his hair was on fire," said Rob Pohlner, who teaches physical education at Forest Lakes Elementary School and was a close friend.
"I've been teaching 14 years and I never heard the kind of music that he got his kids to play," said Mr. Pohlner. "He'd let 'em roll and he'd get so excited that he'd start dancing during performances."
In addition to teaching at Forest Lakes, he also taught private instrumental music lessons at Music Land in Bel Air, and taught middle-schoolers in the TWIGS program at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The TWIGS program offers free classes in music, dance, visual arts and theater to city students in second to the eighth grades.
For the last three years, he had been the music director and organist at Jarrettsville United Methodist Church and played keyboard with the Praise Band at Ayres Chapel United Methodist Church in White Hall.
"He was a very talented and serious musician who brought a sense of energy to our worship," said Mr. Bufano, who is also pastor at Ayres Chapel. "He also brought a slightly contemporary element to our traditional worship. People really enjoyed his music."
Because of declining health, Mr. Selvi stepped down from teaching at Forest Lakes in 2013.
"But Nick did not stop sharing his musical gifts," his wife said. "He continued to play in church whenever possible, sat in with various musicians in live performances, and played piano for residents of Harford County nursing homes several times per month."
Until his most recent surgery in September, Mr. Selvi continued composing, arranging and performing songs on the piano.
Mr. Selvi was an accomplished practical joker, said his wife.
"He also loved doing silly impressions," his wife said.
He enjoyed seeing movies, telling stories, dancing and listening to a wide range of music. He was an inveterate Orioles fan.
A celebration of Mr. Selvi's life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mount Zion United Methodist Church, 1645 E. Churchville Road, Bel Air.
In addition to his wife and his parents, Mr. Selvi is survived by a son, Gabriel Selvi, 8, a student at Edgewood Elementary School; a stepdaughter, Natalie Selvi, 13, a Fallston Middle School student; his paternal grandparents, Carlos A. Selvi and Juana Selvi of Towson; his stepmother, Myriam Selvi of Lutherville; a half-sister, Sofia Selvi of Lutherville; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.