Keep Calm and Ask Dave

Posted on June 4, 2020 under Faces in the Crowd with one comment


David Phee  1956-2020


“His heart gave out.”

David grew up in a busy and loving household, the youngest of nine children. Faith was their bedrock. Saying the rosary daily and attending mass were very important to the Phee family. To this day, some members of the family still occupy the same pew at St.Ninian’s that they’ve occupied for decades. Throughout his life, David would rarely pass by the University Chapel or St.Ninian’s Cathedral without stopping in for a few moments of silent prayer.

Because of the wide discrepancy in ages of his siblings, David grew up ostensibly with two families , and both doted on David. It was hard not to because of his pleasant disposition, his decency as a human being, and his sense of humour. According to his sisters, “There wasn’t a person that didn’t like David.”

David was close to all of his brothers and sisters. He loved going for drives and having long chats. He enjoyed his fishing trips with Norm and was often seen with Eddy having coffee at Tim Horton’s. After six of his siblings died, he, Bette and Joan formed an inseparable trio.

A dedicated employee at St.F.X. University, David was forced to take early retirement because of health issues.

David had many hobbies including the collection of sports cards and memorabilia. He loved to dance, bowl, and go fishing and he loved tinkering with electronics.

I met David a couple of years ago when I performed music at the R.K. for the residents. I walked in to Tanglewood for the first time to do a concert for a group of residents. I spotted this gentleman with a 1000 -watt smile sitting towards the back of the room, proudly wearing a Toronto Maple Leaf jersey. Being a big Montreal Canadiens fan, I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to saunter over and tease David. I could tell in an instant that he was special. He laughed easily at my good- natured ribbing and then dished out some of his own. A new and lasting friendship was born.

Over the ensuing months, I got to know David very well. I performed every week in Tanglewood, where he resided. I could never leave without singing his favourite, “The Gambler”. Several times, while walking from one section of the home to the other, I would drift into Tanglewood just to say hello hoping that David would be around, such was his infectious joy of living. David was a favourite with the staff because of his ever- present smile and pleasant disposition. I am certain they will miss him terribly.

While he loved music, he worshipped his sisters even more. Joan showed up routinely and often arrived bearing cheese snacks and break-open tickets. Bette travelled up from Kentville often to see her younger brother. His eyes lit up whenever family or friends came to visit him. He adored his nieces and nephews. He proudly displayed photographs of them and their children in his room.

When I spoke to David’s family after his death, they told me that he had been suffering from heart issues for years which led to his admission to the R.K.MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish three years ago.

David enjoyed the simple pleasure of life and although he suffered with chronic health issues, he maintained a positive attitude, always choosing to look on the bright side of things.

According to sisters Joan and Bette, “David was an amazing listener and enjoyed hearing what others had to say. He was a people pleaser as well and liked to jokingly tease others to keep the mood in a room happy and upbeat. He really was a ray of sunshine in any room.”

On May 29,2020, David’s heart gave out for the last time.

His heart had been giving out to others his entire life.

Rest in Peace, my friend.

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