Nate’s Story

Nate lived a life in 38 years that most of us will be lucky to live in 80 years. His joy was infectious and he was so incredibly loved. Nate graduated from Franklin Road Academy in Nashville, TN in 2000. He went on to work in the music industry, working his way up from site manager at Dancin’ in the District at the age of 17 to on-the-road sponsorship manager at MAC Presents to a highly skilled automation programmer, technician and crew chief with ShowRig. He assisted in building and operating the many moving sets that carried artists and other automated stage features for global tours. He was especially proud of his career with Kenny Chesney and other artists including Carrie Underwood, John Mayer, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Lil Wayne, Blink 182, and Kendrick Lamar. He developed a reputation for being a leader in his field, and a self-described “juggernaut of the cable management game.”

While touring with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour for numerous years, his family would rendezvous in the city where they were performing during the Christmas holidays to be with Nate.

Nate had a love of the outdoors and hiking, particularly the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. On March 31, 2018, he and his cousin, Harvey Freeman, embarked on what was to be an epic traverse of the entire trail. On the anniversary of his trail launch, Nate shared on Facebook, “Last March I started my journey to walk from Georgia to Maine, 2200 miles. I ended up leaving the Appalachian Trail after 786.6 miles in Glasgow, Virginia. Even though I wasn’t successful in reaching Maine, my hike was hardly a failure. I have lots of happy memories and made many lifelong friends.” Nate’s hiking family became known as the “Rochers.” Later that summer, El Chapo (Nate’s trail name) and other members of the Rocher trail family returned to the trail to serve up some “trail magic” for other hikers making their way. He was a trail angel in that regard.

Nate was an avid Tennessee Titan’s fan and was inducted into the Inaugural Class of the Tennessee Titans Hall of Fans and was recognized at Nissan Stadium with a larger-than-life-sized banner. The celebration of his life was held at Nissan Stadium, because we know that Nate would have wanted to “Titan Up“ til the very end.

Several years before his passing, Nate suffered an injury at work. In seeking treatment for this injury, Nate was prescribed an unethical amount of opioids to manage the pain and quickly became addicted. While many people may think that addiction may indicate a lack of will power, or moral failure, what we know is that substance use disorder is a disease that has the ability to rip even the most disciplined person out of the life they knew and into a struggle that is too often fatal. It’s important to Nate’s family that we talk about the way that he died and the challenges he faced in the years leading up to his death in an effort to combat the stigma and shame associated with substance use disorder.

We were and will always be proud of Nate. We are not embarrassed by or ashamed of Nate, or the struggle he went through. We are proud of Nate. We are proud that each time he stumbled he got right back up and fought even harder. We are proud that through this fight he found the strength to still be vulnerable. We are proud that even during this immense struggle he still filled our lives with so much joy and laughter. And our hope is that through this scholarship we can communicate that we are also proud of anyone who is facing a challenge or obstacle and is managing to find the strength and courage to continue to move forward.

In Memory of Nate Loftis (1981 - 2019)