Eugene Michael "Gino" Avilez

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Gino Avilez, 21; rock 'n' roll his passion

Eugene Avilez had big dreams, and was trying to make all of them come true. A full-time student, Gino still found time to take guitar lessons, hold a job, attend a lot of concerts, mow the lawn regularly, and repair his mom's roof.

Gino, 21, was reserved, yet he dreamed of becoming a rock star and traveling the globe.

"The last time he was here, he was playing his guitar. I was really impressed," says his dad, Higinio. "He would ask me, 'Do you remember that song?' and then play a bit of it, and it would sound right." He was taking electric-guitar lessons because he was intent on starting his own band.

Gino brought the same dedication to his studies. He graduated from Burlington (Mass.) High School in 1999. At graduation, classmate and close friend Derek Gray told Higinio that Gino was the force keeping him in school, motivating him to get his diploma.

For the past year, Gino had continued his studies at RETS Technical Center in Boston. "He was a quiet and very hard-working student, very dedicated," says Don Harris, the school's director. Gino was slated to complete the program in July as a certified electronics technician, prepared for a job repairing equipment for nearly any industry.

He balanced school with work at Starbucks in Woburn. During high school, he worked as an attendant at a Texaco station in Burlington, and as a clerk at Dale Pharmacy in Burlington. His supervisor at the pharmacy described him as a "very outwardly nice young man."

When he finished at RETS in July, he planned to take a trip with his father to his dad's native country of Belize. "He wanted to go back there and visit everybody and just trace his roots," Higinio said.

He had other plans, too: he was supposed to be the best man in Derek Gray's Sept. 24 wedding.

The pair were "like night and day, but they were still best friends," says their friend Lauren DiPierna. They were united in part by their shared passion for rock 'n' roll. They attended concerts nearly every week and went to hear Great White at The Station together. Neither Gino nor Derek escaped the fire.

-- Jessica Resnick-Ault, Providence Journal staff

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003
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