PORT RICHEY — Like other young couples, Brian and Kristen Trapani had planned a future together. When his music store didn't need him there every day, they would start a charter school. In retirement, they would live the full-time RV life.
But with such dreams came fears.
"I don't know what I would do if anything ever happened to you," Kristen told her husband.
Mr. Trapani always had a ready reply — that he was "protected." A fortune cookie had told him so.
He saved the message: "God is watching out for you especially."
Mr. Trapani, an owner of Encore Music Store, one of Pasco County's largest music shops, died Thursday, at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. He was 34.
Mr. Trapani collapsed in his store Thursday morning. The death likely resulted from natural causes, the Pinellas-Pasco County Medical Examiner's Office said. He leaves behind his 27-year-old wife and a 4-month-old daughter, Sadie.
Mr. Trapani was a teacher's son who took to music early. He started playing the guitar at 4, and was a Beatles fan by 5.
At 10, after mastering the "guitar duel" solo from the film Crossroads, he received a candy-apple red guitar his father bought at Encore.
He started working at Encore while attending Ridgewood High School. He was still working there when he graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in elementary education.
A couple of years later, Mr. Trapani, his brother Mike and a third partner bought the store on U.S. 19. Over the years, the brothers bought out the partner and multiplied the store's inventory in every category.
"I've sent a lot of my kids from school for private lessons over there," said John Keon, Hudson Middle School's band director. "Brian has always been a very dedicated store owner and musician. He's always been good to the kids of the community."
Mr. Trapani specialized in electronics and guitar repair. "Whatever I brought in, he pretty much fixed it before I got out the door," said frequent customer Don Cox, 58.
Although the repair work kept him up nights, Mr. Trapani found time to unwind playing in local night spots in cover bands with names like Retromatic and Box for Peewee, where he also demonstrated his range as a singer.
"As good as he was, he could have been a lot cockier than he was," said brother Joe Trapani, 40.
He had known Kristen Leeper, one of his younger sister's friends, since childhood. They shared their first kiss on New Year's Eve when she was 20 and he was 26.
Kristen Trapani rose before dawn Thursday to get ready for her teaching job at Trinity Oaks Elementary.
As she nursed her baby and watched her husband sleep, she said, "I thanked God for my family."
At 11 a.m., the school told Mrs. Trapani she had a phone call.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or [email protected]