Dan Wade

We don’t often think of the stories we will leave behind, the legacy we will create.  Years roll by, seasons change and we live- until we don’t.

And others, in our wake, are left to feed off of memories and create meaning of a man’s life.

I can do no justice for my friend, Gordon Daniel Wade, so please forgive me as I try.

Dan was the Operations Manager at the Samaritan Center for the last fourteen years of a life well lived.  He was a father and grandfather and a devoted partner to his sweetie, Ida.  He was a good friend and well-loved Westender.  He was an Irishman to the core, even celebrating his birthday on St. Patrick’s Day, which is why we remember him today.

He was always quick to point out that he wasn’t a chef, just a man that learned at his mother’s knee how to make a hearty meal out of what they could afford; wisdom that served him well at the helm of the Samaritan Center.

Some may laugh and remember Dan as a good loaf of bread- crusty on the outside, but warm and comforting on the inside.  He was firm and strong, but had a heart of gold that was hard to miss.

He was the kind of man that never forgot the details.  Each year, on Mary Beth’s late father’s birthday, Dan would serve our guests kielbasa and sauerkraut in his honor.  With the careful and precise handwriting of a former teacher, he would dedicate the menu board in his memory.

He was the kind of man that took a sense of pride in each day, arriving at the Samaritan Center in the wee hours of dawn to carefully mop the floors, to fill the air with the scent of coffee, to turn on ovens and lights and fans, to welcome “patrons that don’t need to pay”.

He was the kind of man that humbly provided for others.  He hosted an annual turkey dinner at Steve’s Restaurant in Tipp Hill to benefit the Samaritan Center.  He would slave away in the kitchen, carving turkeys and dishing up sides.  Every now and then, he would poke his head out and grin at the feast, but disappear again to ensure every last person was fed.  He always left the gift of the gab to other so-inclined Irishmen.

He was the kind of man that created community, created family.  He cared for people.  He provided the meal that was the centerpiece of our mission.  As many people know, Dan fought valiantly in his battle with cancer.  He was so dedicated to his work, his staff, his kitchen, and most importantly, his guests.  Even when he was at his weakest, his most tired, he still came in to our tiny basement kitchen to feed people.  He used to say that was keeping him alive.

I don’t know how to qualify a legacy or one man’s life.  I do know this: hanging in the Samaritan Center kitchen is a small work of art by Brian Andreas.  It reads, “There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.”

If you find yourself out and about, raise a pint to our beloved Dan.  We love you, my friend.  Forever in our minds, we will remember you in kelly green pastures, in your treasured Boston Red Sox, in the warm and comforting scents of the kitchen.