BRADENTON BEACH – Anna Maria Island lost a larger than life personality when Kyle Shell passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
Kyle was 42 when he died peacefully at the Bradenton Beach home he and his mom, Gayden Shell, shared. He had been sick and had recently been hospitalized with heart issues.
As a singer, guitarist, percussionist and digital looper, Kyle became a fixture of the Island’s music scene after he and Gayden moved to Bradenton Beach eight years ago. He was a founding member of Tangled Mangos and Phunk It and he also performed solo.
Donate to Kyle’s Go Fund Me account here.
Word of Kyle’s passing spread quickly and that day dozens of his friends started sharing photographs, memories and expressions of sorrow and love on Facebook – including several posts at the Island Ratz Unite Facebook page Kyle administered.
Later that day, Gayden posted a message that included these comments: “This morning, Kyle fell asleep at home after a long painful illness and peacefully passed away. He spent his last week with his daughter Kaya, his pride and joy. He couldn’t have been happier. Thank you so much for loving Kyle.”
That night, many of Kyle’s friends wound up at the Sports Lounge in Bradenton Beach, where toasts were made and shots drank in his honor.
“We could feel your presence all around us. Tears were shed, but the laughter, oh the laughter… Sharing a Kyle story isn’t just a story: Your tales are EPIC, and will live on forever my friend,” Tide Tables bartender Staci Wilkinson wrote on her Facebook page.
“This Island has lost one of the most tremendous human beings I’ve ever come in contact with. Kyle’s bigger than life personality, heart, smile and hugs will be missed. He was part of the Sports’ family,” bartender Courtney McGough said.
On Thursday, Gayden discussed Kyle’s passing.
“The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the cardiologist wanted to put him back in the hospital and Kyle said, ‘No, I have to see my daughter.’ ”
His daughter, Kaya Sage Shell, is 17 and lives in Colorado.
“He knew he was dying. He got to spend five days with us. He got his turkey sandwich. Several people came over to see him and he talked to a lot of people. I think he was preparing people,” Gayden said.
“We said goodbye to him early Tuesday morning, before I took Kaya to the airport. I said I wanted a big hug and he kissed me on the cheek. I told Kaya to come get a hug. I told her it might be the last time.”
When Gayden returned from the airport she discovered Kyle had passed.
“I wasn’t real surprised. He had heart failure. He laid down and his heart stopped. He went peacefully and there was no pain. He waited for Kaya to leave,” she said.
Late Saturday afternoon, more than 50 people joined Gayden for a sunset gathering at Coquina Beach.
A celebration of life and a fundraiser for Kaya’s college education will take place at the Drift In on Saturday, Dec. 28. Online donations can be made at the “In Memory of Kyle Shell” GoFundMe page.
“I know he would love that,” Gayden said.
On Sunday, Kaya said via text, “My Daddy was the most brilliant, funny, and caring person I’ve ever known. He brought light into so many people’s lives and now the world is darker without him in it. He inspired me to fall in love with music and singing. He made me fall in love with sushi, Harry Potter and video games. He taught me to use Twizzlers as straws at the movies and how to catch fish on my grandma’s pontoon boat. I will always miss him. I wish I could have learned so many more things from him, but I know he will be watching over me and guiding me through life’s ups and downs.”
“The most important things to Kyle were his friends and his family. He loved to have a good time and he lived life to the fullest. You couldn’t ask for a better friend,” business owner and City Commissioner Jake Spooner said.
“There are friends, there is family, and there are friends that become family. And that’s Kyle for most of us. Many people have walked through my life, but there will be very few that leave a footprint like he did,” longtime friend Dan Barto said after flying in from Colorado.
“We hired his band for several shows at DCoy Ducks. Although I met Kyle through his music, it was his personality and happy-go-lucky attitude that drew me to him as a friend. We attended concerts and music festivals and partied like there was no tomorrow. He was a big man with a big heart. His music, personality and spirit will be greatly missed on the Island,” bartender Brad Lisk said.
“Kyle was bigger than life. When you saw Kyle, you knew instantly that life was better,” Swordfish Grill General Manager Bob Slicker said.
Nicole Heslop and her husband Jon Westergard used to own and operate the Barefoot Tiki Bar in Holmes Beach, where the Tangled Mangos often performed.
“Kyle will always hold a special spot in our hearts. His music was a major part of the Barefoot Tiki and his playlist will never be forgotten,” Heslop said.
In 2012, Kyle and keyboardist Dan Ryan formed Tangled Mangos and spent three years playing on and around the Island. They also played music festivals and out of town venues.
“Kyle loved music. He was a master at percussion and live looping and he could improvise lyrics with ease. He was fearless. The fun began when Kyle showed up. He loved giving people rides in his golf cart. Kyle was a big guy with a big personality, a big laugh, a big voice, big talent and a big heart. I loved him and I will miss him,” Ryan said.
Jim Kyle Shell
Jim Kyle Shell, 42, passed away peacefully at his Bradenton Beach, Fl. home on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The cause of death was heart failure.
Kyle is survived by his mother Dorace Gayden Miller Shell, currently of Bradenton Beach; his daughter Kaya Sage Shell of Longmont, Co.; and his half-brother Jeff Paz, of Philadelphia, Pa.
Kyle was preceded in death by his father Jim Shell of Stillwell, Ok. and his cousin Will Miller of Pittsburg, Kan.
Kyle is survived by his aunts and uncles Faith and Dick Coleman and Richard and Nancy Miller of Pittsburg, Kan., Carolyn and Bill Stowers of Little Rock Ark., Connie Shell, Jerry Shell and Kathy Littledave of Stilwell. Ok. and several cousins.
Kyle was born June 2, 1977, at the Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Ok. and he was very proud of his Cherokee Indian heritage. Kyle attended Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Kan., the Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan. and he was a life-long student at the “school of hard knocks.”
Kyle was once named the Citizen of the Year Award by the Pittsburg YMCA and he was a member of the First Presbyterian Church.
During his lifetime Kyle lived in Pittsburg and Lawrence, Kan., Grand Junction and Fort Collins Co., Crystal River and St Petersburg, Fl. and most recently in Bradenton Beach.
Kyle worked as a river raft guide on the Rio Grande River in Creede, Co., as a ski instructor at the Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Mesa, Co., as a first mate for the BoatU.S. marine towing service, and as a disabled group home caregiver in Inverness, Fl.
Kyle was a self-taught professional musician who sang, played guitar and percussion and created the live guitar, percussion and vocal loops that made him a “looper.” Kyle performed with Gracious Grooves, Buffalo Strange, Cope, Dim Applz, Tangled Mangoes and Phunk It. He also performed solo as The Kyle Shell and occasionally as a D.J. using the moniker D.J. Half Shell. Many of Kyle’s musical performances can be viewed on YouTube.
On Saturday, Dec. 28, some of Kyle’s cremated remains will be spread in the Gulf of Mexico and there will be a celebration of life and a benefit for Kaya at the Drift In, in Bradenton Beach. Kyle’s final resting place will be alongside family in Pittsburg, Kan.
A GoFundMe account has been established to assist with Kaya’s continuing education and her desire to become a pediatrician. Online donations can be made at the “In Memory of Kyle Shell” GoFundMe page: www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-kyle-shell.
Condolences can be shared at the Brown and Sons Funeral Home website, www.brownandsonsfuneral.com and via social media on Facebook. The family requests no flowers be sent.