09/25/2017 10:54 EDT | Updated 09/25/2017 11:14 EDT

Dave Hanley Showed Hamilton The Meaning Of 'Mad Love'

For someone who didn't have a household name, he probably touched more people than any celebrity ever could.

To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.Confucius

Someone you probably never knew died the other day. His name was Dave Hanley.

If you were lucky, you know who he was, the things he did, and the impact he had on the lives of so many people. I'm asking myself — why would readers be interested in hearing about somebody who wasn't a household name? The answer is simple — you should be interested because he wasn't a household name.

But you would never think that if you saw the outpouring of love he has received since he died last Wednesday. On the contrary, you would think he was a world renowned personality.

I guess you just had to know him.

Theresa Hanley/GoFundMe
Dave Hanley, left, and his wife, Nicole, right. A GoFundMe page was set up to support his family at

I met Dave in 2004. He was my trainer at one of the million random jobs I had in my 20s as I began trying to scratch out a living as a writer. If you are a writer you know what it is like to have a million random jobs. They never last, and this one was no different. It was a call centre at Yonge and Sherbourne in Toronto.

It took roughly two minutes for me to understand I was being trained by a person who should have been doing great things. Funny, though — Dave would probably be the first to say that he was "living the dream." He said that often, actually. And more to the point, he provided a sort of dream to people he interacted with. If he saw you struggling, he'd provide something that has no word to describe it. A kind of levity that made it seem like levity did not exist until he was a part of your life.

He did that for me after just one week of knowing him.

I barely knew him at all, and he put himself on the line for me.

Another trainee was getting on my nerves. He kept on talking about the "new world order" and how globalists were controlling our minds through tap water and chem trails. He was probably 65 years old, and at first I just tried to ignore him. The he tried to engage with me and I just told him that I thought he was a crackpot. The man got up and put his hands on me. Broke, and desperate to not to reestablish myself as an unemployed, struggling wordsmith, I looked at Dave who was now walking towards us and he gave me a look that said, "Don't do it, my man. Just don't do it."

I stayed in my seat as this man was pushing my head and screaming obscenities. Dave stepped between us and deescalated the situation immediately. A few minutes later Dave's director walked in and asked me and the unhinged conspiracy theorist to leave. Dave took his director aside, looked him in the eye and, after 10 seconds or so, told me to remain in the training room. He saved my job. He didn't have to, but he did.

I barely knew him at all, and he put himself on the line for me.

But my story is nothing compared to all of the other people Dave helped over the years. For someone who didn't have a household name, he probably touched more people than any celebrity ever could. As I was sifting through the posts and tributes on his Facebook page, literally hundreds of brokenhearted friends, family members and acquaintances were sharing beautiful memories with one overriding theme — the selfless and immeasurably generous actions of a man blessed with the gift of being irretrievably lovely towards other human beings.

kitestring media

You probably just had to know him to understand.

He turned his unending imagination for making people happy into a brilliant company — Pop Up Hamilton — where he and his amazing wife, Nicole, would provide creative dinner experiences in unique, one-off locations inside the greater Hamilton area. Abandoned warehouses, heritage buildings, outdoor gardens and a slew of other random places were transformed into on-the-spot restaurants where patrons would eat, drink and ultimately leave happier than when they arrived. Dave was always front and centre, wearing his trademark fedora and being his natural, charming, hilarious self. Pop Up Hamilton became one of the centerpieces in the city, and Dave became a conduit between businesses, the community and individuals who loved him.

I wish I could aptly convey why I feel like he was easily one of the best humans I've ever known.

There was an almost endless supply of love emanating from Dave Hanley. A few people who never met him have asked me, "What was it about this guy?" Trust me, there is a long list of things he did that prove how amazing he was, but that list of things is secondary to the inner beauty that made the list possible in the first place. I guess you had to know him. I guess you had to be the recipient of one of his jokes, or see firsthand his determination to make you feel like a rock star, or witness his selfless disposition, or his endless capacity to be a gracious human being, or his extraordinary sense of generousity, or his mission to provide a spark in your life whenever he sensed any slight discomfort or sadness.

You just had to know him.

I wish I could explain who he was more competently. I wish I could aptly convey why I feel like he was easily one of the best humans I've ever known. I wish you understood why this ordinary man seemed to possess super powers, powers he would instinctively give away to anyone who crossed his path

His signature expression was "mad love," a common throwback phrase and one that fits perfectly with what he embodied, and what he ultimately found inside those of us who understand that we are all better people just for knowing him.

I knew Dave Hanley. I wish you all did, too.

Rest in peace, my man.

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