GREENFIELD — Nick Fiano helped living things grow.

For 20 years, those living things were plants in the landscape designs of his award-winning business. For the last 15-16 years, those living things were people, souls he wanted to see flourish.

People here and abroad are mourning the passing of Fiano, 43, on Sunday following a diagnosis of Stage 4 colon cancer nine months ago. Yet they’re also fondly looking back on the examples of sacrifice and mentorship they saw in his life.


At one point, “I didn’t even believe there was a God,” Fiano would later write as he looked back on his life.

Gary Wright remembers getting to know Fiano’s parents years ago, chatting with Nick’s mother when he dropped off ministry newsletters for printing at the PostNet on North State Street in Greenfield.

Eventually, his parents became involved in Brandywine Community Church. When the church was offering a Financial Peace University class, they gifted the book and materials for the course to Nick and his wife, Jamie. From that seed, say people who knew him, he shifted from nonbelief to commitment.

“That just sparked a desire for searching for truth, I think, in both of them,” said Paul Galbraith, local PEACE pastor at Brandywine.

“… He was radically transformed after discovering his own purpose through that relationship with Christ, and he wanted others to experience it as well.”


Fiano grew up in Greenfield, graduating from Greenfield-Central High School in 1999. He started Fiano Landscapes in 2002, in his early 20s. He married Jamie in 2006, and over the years their family and the business both grew.

Soon after he and Jamie started their spiritual journey, Brandywine launched a Celebrate Recovery group. They went through the course and became early leaders in the ministry.

Fiano also opened his office for a weekly 6 a.m. Bible study with other men. “I just think of so many guys who are so much better in every area of life because they took time to be part of those gatherings,” Galbraith said.

Over the years Fiano served in various ways at Brandywine, including as a group leader in the midweek AWANA children’s program.

Downer remembers standing in the parking lot talking with Fiano after AWANA meetings. Both young fathers with children in the program, they became friends, in touch via phone almost daily.

“I probably prayed more on the phone with him than I have anyone else in my life,” Downer said.


In addition to the ways Fiano served at Brandywine, he was also asked to serve on the board of World Renewal. It’s a mission agency with headquarters east of Greenfield, and Wright is its president and founder.

Wright didn’t ask Fiano to serve overseas himself. Yet he thinks sitting in meetings, learning more about ministry others were doing around the world, sparked new ideas in Fiano about ways he could minister.

Galbraith also saw Fiano’s growing interest in work overseas during a trip to Haiti to install a reverse osmosis system to generate clean water, in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“I had the privilege of just seeing God light a fire in him for that country,” Galbraith said.

Galbraith and Wright saw Fiano bring his tech savvy and business acumen to new avenues for ministry, from helping a bivocational ministry leader start a motorcyle sidecar taxi business to designing a space to raise chickens.

“He definitely invested in people with his time, his thought processes, his heart and his money,” Wright said. “Heaven will only be able to reveal the fruit of all that investment he and Jamie made in other people.”


Meanwhile, Fiano continued to excel as a landscaper. Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce named him 2016 Businessman of the Year. Fiano Landscapes won multiple awards, including the Mayor’s Choice Award at the 2014 Indiana Flower and Patio Show and Best of Show at the 2011 Indianapolis Home and Flower Show.

He worked hard at it, friends say, but eventually he felt God leading him to put it aside. He closed it in 2022, fulfilling the last few contracts and selling off assets.

It was “a high-end landscaping business,” Wright said. “It’s the equivalent of someone like (NFL running back) Barry Sanders quitting at the height of his career and just walking away from it. Everyone’s dumbfounded … ‘Why would you do that?’”

“If there was something he could accomplish in the landscaping world, he pretty much did it,” Downer said. “But his real passion was leading people to Jesus.”


As they closed the business, the Fianos got away for some family time and reflection. While in the Dominican Republic, “They just started meeting people and God opened a door for them to minister to people down there,” Downer said.

Reading Fiano’s texted updates and prayer requests back in Greenfield, Galbraith could just grin. “I thought you were just down there to rest, man.”

Weekly worship gatherings on the beach sometimes included baptisms. Wright said after returning to Indiana, Fiano began meeting over Zoom with several men for leadership training. “He took them as a group through Henry Blackaby’s ‘Experiencing God,’ and that was really fruitful for them,” Wright said. Fiano would also call two pastors in Haiti weekly.

During a 2023 ministry trip to the Dominican Republic, Fiano developed back pain. A scan upon return revealed colon cancer. Many friends followed a designated Facebook page offering updates on his health journey, and they’ve been sharing tributes there since his passing on Sunday.

“We all would wish that God had intervened and provided a miracle,” Wright said, “and when that didn’t happen, the question is easily ‘Why?’ but I think the right question is ‘How?’ How do we go on? How do we deal with this?”

Galbraith also understands people will ask why. But perhaps instead “we can look at it through a lens of grace, that the Lord already knew what was ahead of him … so these last couple of years could be so intentional,” he said. “… All he would want is for people to know that everything good about him came from his relationship with Jesus.”

In a 2021 social media post, the one where he described once not believing, Fiano expressed gratitude.

“I didn’t feel worthy of another chance … Now I’m a new creation, BRAND NEW!! … My life is a testament of the leaders, teachers, members and friends living out the mission of the church …. I am forever grateful of their tireless pursuit of lost people that desperately need Jesus!! How can I not in return give my life to the same cause!!”


In lieu of flowers, Nick Fiano’s family is requesting donations to support World Renewal’s ministry in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Those interested can visit and scroll down to “Nick Fiano Memorial Fund.”