Barry Nestande, longtime chief of staff for Fourth District Supervisor John J. Benoit, died unexpectedly Friday afternoon, March 19. According to sources, he was working out in a gym, collapsed and subsequently died at Desert Sun Hosptial.

Nestande is the brother of 63rd District Assemblyman Brian Nestande. Assemblyman Nestande has been unavailable for comment.

Barry had served Benoit since his election in 2002 as 63rd District Assemblyman, followed him to the state Senate in 2008 and joined him at the county level when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Benoit to replace former Supervisor Roy Wilson, who passed away in August 2009.

Barry Nestande was well known and well liked throughout the county. He was a helpful, gracious, competent and reliable man.

“From the earliest days of my first campaign for the State Assembly in 2001, until lunch [Friday], Barry Nestande was by my side. We were closer than most brothers,” said Benoit.

Nestande enjoyed the love and support of his wife, Merrilee, and a loving home life with their two sons, Tyson and Brett.

Services for Nestande will be 10 a.m. Friday, March 26 at the Main Worship Center at Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells. A reception follows the service.

Barry’s mother, Beverly, founded Beverly’s House, a special place offering shelter and hope to young women leaving foster care. In lieu of flowers, the Nestande family is requesting that donations be made to YWCA-Central Orange County, P.O. Box 689, Orange, CA 92856 with “Beverly’s House” in the memo line.