Lodi, N.Y. — Danielle Joseph and Cameron Nichols were looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together, but tragedy abruptly put an end to their dreams.
Nichols, 25, was killed in a motorcycle accident June 3, about a year before he and Joseph were planning to be married.
As devastating as the accident was for Joseph, it might have been almost as hard on her father, David Joseph of Trumansburg, as he and his future son-in-law had grown very close.
Nichols was like the son David Joseph never had, and the two of them spent hours hunting and fishing together, Danielle Joseph said.
After Nichols was killed, father and daughter thought of a perfect way to keep his legacy alive.
Using some of Nichols’ hunting gear, David Joseph tagged an 8-point buck this fall, and one of Nichols’ closest friends also harvested a deer.
“I wanted to give his stuff to people I know would cherish and would honor Cameron with the passions Cameron shared,” Danielle Joseph said. “All of Cameron’s hunting things went to James Turner, his best friend and best man in the wedding; Micheal Hall, a really good friend and hunting buddy, and my father. Each of them take a piece of Cameron’s hunting gear – from a bow to a hat to a hip bag – every single time they go out.
“My father makes it out to the tree every night with a piece of Cameron’s hunting gear to make sure that Cameron is to get out in his tree to hunt once again,” she said. “My dad got a nice 8-point the and made the deer in memory of my fiance and his hunting partner.”
Nichols’ friend James Turner also shot a big doe this fall using Nichols’ bow, Joseph said.
Joseph, 24, is a labor and delivery assistant and phlebotomist and goes to nursing school full-time.
Nichols was a welder. The two were together for six years and engaged for the last two before his accident, and were planning a June 16, 2018 wedding.
Nichols grew up in Odessa in Schuyler County and he and Joseph lived there for four years before moving to Lodi in Seneca County two years ago with their St. Bernard dog Thor.
Nichols and Joseph had a lengthy bucket list of things they wanted to accomplish during their married life, and Joseph plans to complete every item on that list to keep his legacy alive.
Nichols and David Joseph were supposed to take part in a bowfishing tournament for carp in the Thousand Islands only a few weeks after Nichols’ death, so Danielle took his place. While they were visiting the Thousand Islands, they sunk a tiny vial of ashes to leave a piece of Nichols there.
The family has also adopted a stretch of highway where Nichols was killed, and will clean it twice a year in his memory.
Thor also took the loss of his master hard, Joseph said, but he is taking part in the healing process as well. He was certified as an emotional support dog for Joseph and accompanies her on all of her adventures.
Nichols’ friends and Joseph’s father will continue to wear and use his hunting gear in the future and Joseph will leave little reminders of him behind on all of her journeys.
“It’s super hard but we don’t have a choice. Cameron isn’t coming back so we will honor him in every way we can,” Joseph said. “I have many more things to accomplish but I will fulfill everything on that list and take a piece of him with me and leave it there. He deserves for his life to be completed for him. It’s the least I can do for my fiance.”