PORTLAND – Nathan M. Spring left his girlfriend, Michaela Wood, feeling she had lived a “fairy tale.”

“He made me breakfast and dinner. He’d fill up my gas tank, stand out in the cold. He wrote me love letters every time he left,” Wood said. “He did everything for me.”

Spring, of Wells, died Saturday of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He was 22.

“For him to smile would light up your whole world,” said Spring’s mother, Kimberley Spring. “His eyes were unbelievably blue.”

Spring, who was born in Sanford in 1989, stood about 6 feet tall and had a head of brown hair. He lived with his family on Horace Mills Road and worked at Grissini Italian Bistro in Kennebunk. He had a sister, Katherine, and a dog, Izzie.

Spring’s father, Robert Spring, said his son grew up a “happy-go-lucky” kid who participated in Cub Scouts and played Little League baseball. Spring sometimes shot a basketball to blow off steam.

But athletics were secondary to Spring’s primary interest: anything on wheels, like scooters, bikes and cars.

“When he was younger, he lived on a bicycle,” his father said.

Spring attended Wells High School, where he was in the jazz and marching bands. He played trombone and had a “natural ability” at keeping musical time, said Kimberley Spring.

The family spent time together last summer at Silver Lake in New Hampshire. She recalled fond memories of her son riding an inner tube pulled by the family’s boat.

“He would try to hang on and would end up with rug burns all over his body,” she said. “But he always managed to hang on.”

Kimberley Spring said her son had a knack for being on time, and he often insisted on perfection.

“When he helped around the house, or cooked or vacuumed, you could count on it being perfect,” she said.

One of Nathan Spring’s best friends, Dan MacDonald of Wells, said Spring had a natural sense of humor and went out of his way to make other people smile.

MacDonald said he won’t forget working on cars, taking drives and playing basketball and Frisbee with Spring.

Spring graduated from high school in 2007, then took classes at the University of Maine in Orono and at the University of Southern Maine.

Robert Spring said his son wasn’t content in the academic setting and had recently been trying to find a new path in life.

Spring started dating Wood, from Scarborough, about four months ago. They spent nearly every day together during the summer before Wood went away to college.

They saw each other less frequently lately, but spent their time wisely. Wood said on recent weekends they talked about Spring’s career, and began looking into kinds of jobs that best fit his interests.

With Wood’s help, Spring started developing a vision for his future.

“He wanted to have his own (business) where he could detail cars,” she said. “He just needed to be pushed.”

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or:

jhemmerdinger@mainetoday.com