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Monday, February 18, 2013

OUR BUDDY DANNY IS GONE

By: Bob Hughes

Danny Marce died in a Regina hospital in the early hours of last Wednesday, which was the day before Valentine's Day. He was 67 years old, even though the media reported his age as being 66. But, such an error would have been welcomed by Danny because at our age every year you can get back is important.

So, the life of Danny Marce, who was in his 60's, was celebrated at Christ the King Roman Catholic Church on a chilly Monday morning and into the afternoon of Monday, which was Family Day in Saskatchewan. It was called A Celebration of Dan's Life. The Reverend Ken Koep was the celebrant. People began arriving for the funeral 90 minutes before kickoff. Wonderful music was provided by Richard Brown, Richard Dittrick, Ryan Hicks, John Palmarin, Tom Sax and the beautiful voice of Corinne Pirot. The church was more than filled. Every pew was taken and chairs were brought in and people were moved down a hallway so they could at least be there. I was told that about 750 of Danny's closest friends attended. They came from as a near as down the street to as far away as Phoenix and Kelowna. There were plenty of tears spilled, and a few smiles and chuckles flashed. Danny would have been happy with that. Another event of his was sold out.

It somehow seemed fitting that Danny died a day before Valentine's Day because much was made at the service of his love for his wife Jan, whom he married in 1971. And it was fitting that the service was held on Family Day because much was made of his love for his family. The eulogists were his three sons - Dallas, Kelly and Joel. They spoke glowingly of their father in such tender terms and they choked back tears but continued on, and their dad would have been proud of them.

The lives of a whole lot of people changed at 10:30 at night on February 8th, on a not well-lit two way street in the Grand Cayman Islands when Danny was hit by a car as headed for the condo he, his wife and some friends were staying in on a vacation. Just like that, everything changed. His injuries were so traumatic and so many, not even Danny's great fighting spirit could overcome them. And despite a stay in a Miami hospital and the midnight trip home to Regina for further care, it was not to be the miracle everybody was praying for. That is just the way life works, and people are still having trouble getting this right, that he is gone, and it is, as somebody told me, surreal. There was no warning. If he ever had a sick day in all the decades I have known him, I must have been out of town.

You see, Danny Marce left a footprint on the soul of this city that will never be erased, that will last for all time. He touched many lives and many organizations and many charities, and he did it all expecting nothing really in return, except maybe a "well done," or a "good job Dan." He did things from the heart that nobody seemed to know about. That was Danny.

Did you know he went to the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre once or twice a week to visit and wheel around a friend of his who was there for life? That was Danny.

Everybody knows that he was a dedicated volunteer with the Saskatchewan Roughriders who kept taking the Plaza of Honour Dinner to a higher level every year. They know he was the driving force behind making the Bill Clarke Golf Tournament for Parkinson's Disease a huge success, annually drawing more than 200 players to Avonlea. He served on boards, and stuff like that, and he would never do it if he didn't believe in it and if he believed in it you knew he would do more than his part. That was Danny.

He was a publisher of books with Printwest. He was my publisher on three books - The history of the Regina Rams, The Big Dig, The Miracle of Wascana Centre, and the history of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was relentless in keeping me to deadlines, and we would snarl at each other, and trade nasty emails, and the books would always get done on time. And, he would go beyond the call of duty to make sure that every page of every book was special when it went to press. He made me go to the Saskatchewan Archives to look at pictures for The Big Dig, and we must have looked at 6,000 of them, but that was him. He was so stubborn, and he pulled you along, and made it all better. That was Danny.

He loved to golf, and he was pretty good at that, and he could hit the ball a mile, and he was a ferocious competitor. He once screamed at me all the way from the 17th green to the 18th tee box in a Saskatchewan Roughider alumni tournament at the Regina Club because he didn't think I had concentrated enough on a putt. That was Danny.

His was a life well lived, and what else can be better than that? He lived with the idea in mind that you had to make something of every day you're given. And, that is what Danny did, right up to the moment he ventured onto that darkened street in the Cayman Islands.

He married a wonderful woman. He and Jan raised three sons to be proud of. He was a doting grandfather, a faithful friend, and a giver of himself. Yes, that was Danny.

4 comments:

Rally Driver said...

Well said. The service was a fitting send off for such an unforgetable man.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant piece of writing as only Bob Hughes can do it. Danny, you were sent away to a better world in high style. God bless you, and Bob Hughes, the greatest writer this city has ever seen.It is not surprising you two were such close friends.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done Bob!

Anonymous said...

I will think of Danny at this year's Grey Cup in Regina and wish he could be in the stands.