On Friday afternoon, dozens gathered to honour the life of a panhandler who never failed to put a smile on the faces of those who passed by on a daily basis.
“Seeing him was a pleasure, just his attitude of life, you know, he always cheered me up and gave me hope,” said event organizer Allen Tysick.
“It was always good morning ladies have a great day ladies the sun is shining there’s no reason not be out, he was never mad, upset or negative,” added memorial attendee Debra Craig
The man’s name was Rob French. He would set up shop in front of a downtown Tim Horton’s location every day. But a few weeks back he passed away due to health complications. Those who gathered to pay their respects say he was giver rather than a taker.”
He was always happy and friendly and he would always come in and tip us girls,” said Tim Horton’s employee Debra Craig.
Beyond the warm welcomes, very few knew much about French. Friends say he was on disability due to a lung disease and lived in affordable housing nearby, but despite of the deep connections, he was able to uplift the spirits of many in just a few brief moments every day.
“We often talked and actually one time I mentioned to him my wife was ill and one day I went by and he said ‘how’s your wife, I’ve been praying for her’ and just always very positive. So it’s real light in the community. It was a joy to know him,” said Dean Cameron, who regularly talked to French during his daily commute.
French may be gone, but his infectious joy and positivity will always be remembered.