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(WBIR - Oak Ridge)

Longtime friends and customers say they're still surprised of the sudden passing of David Neusel, the owner of Big Ed's Pizza in Oak Ridge.

The owner of a landmark Oak Ridge restaurant died Thursday. The assistant manager of Big Ed's Pizza confirmed to 10News that owner David Neusel passed away at a Nashville hospital.

"Just a great guy and I was absolutely shocked this morning when I learned the news," said Mike Crowe, who went to high school with Neusel, and remained friends through the years.

"David and I traded firearms back and fourth. I used to order parts for him because he built competition guns for people," Crowe added.

The pizzeria is well known in East Tennessee as well as around the world. Neusel once told 10News he was traveling abroad and saw a Big Ed's t-shirt.

"Heard of people seeing those t-shirts in Singapore and Hong Kong. Probably as to do with the type of visitors that we get to the labs," Crowe said.

David was the son of Edward "Big Ed" Neusel, and took over the business after his father passed away. Pride in his pizza and his community were a huge part of his life.

"I do not know the kind of provisions h'es made for that. I know his dad made provisions for it, and I hope David did. And I hope the restaurant continues on," Crowe said Friday morning. "It's going to be really hard to be the same place without Big and and now David."

No word yet on funeral arrangements or a cause of death.

The video above is a Your Stories segment we reported on Big Ed's and David.

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