Community mourns popular NJ ice cream store owner who died from COVID-19

YARDVILLE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A Mercer County, New Jersey community is grieving the loss of a popular ice cream store owner who died of COVID-19.

Sixty-seven-year-old Nelson Cheng owned the Carvel Ice Cream Store in Yardville since 1989.

After learning of his death, former employees and members of the community came to show their support Monday, filling the strip mall sidewalk with flowers and mementos. Supporters also wrote messages for the family on the windows of the store.

Former employee Jennifer Thomann called Cheng a staple in the community.

Nelson Cheng, 67, owned the Carvel Ice Cream Store in Yardville, New Jersey since 1989.

"He was like a dad to me and probably to most of these girls also, so he was the best. He was a supporter of Little League. He knew everyone's name. He knew everyone's orders," said Thomann.

According to his obituary, Cheng was born in Hsinchu, Taiwan. He met his future wife, Leslie, in Taipei where they married in 1978. "They immigrated to the United States soon after with dreams of a better life for themselves and the family they would have."

"Most of all, he loved his family, he loved his work, he loved his store, he loved his customers, he loved all the employees that worked with him through the last decades, and he loved the community he served," read another portion of his obituary.

Cheng's family called him "the hardest working human being alive." They confirmed to Action News that he died last week of COVID-19.

Cheng's widow, Leslie, and his adult children, Jessica and Nicholas, released a statement to Action News saying, "The Cheng family is overwhelmed by the incredible outpouring from the community, both on social media and from the displays in front of the store. We thank everyone who has visited our Carvel Ice Cream store over the past 32 years. Your kind and loving messages have been a great source of comfort during this difficult time."

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