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David Neylan

David Lawrence Neylan

Tuesday, July 13th, 1937 - Thursday, October 1st, 2020
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Obituary

DAVID LAWRENCE MICHAEL NEYLAN

Son, Husband, Father, Educator, Friend

1937-2020

It is with profound sadness to announce the passing of David Neylan on October 1st in Waterloo, Ontario. He was 83 years old and had a rich life. He was born in Toronto but at a young age moved to Hamilton. He spent his youth there with his parents Ethel Maude Beasley and Lawrence Neylan and his younger sister Lynda. He was intelligent, sporty, kind and a strong moral sense. He met his wife Joan while attending St. Christopher’s United Church in Hamilton. Joan and her parents were particularly impressed with this young man who attended church on his own. Joan’s friends referred to him as ‘the Professor’ since he was so knowledgeable and worldly. While at McMaster, he continued to participate in long distance running races. Here he was given another nickname, being known as Dave “the horse” Neylan. He galloped along serving as the pacer for his team, tiring the others out and allowing his team’s sprinters to take the lead near the close. Working hard for his team but not needing the glory is a trait that continued his entire life as evident in his many voluntary efforts. Studying Geography married many of his interests: the outdoors, maps, urban landscapes and humans’ impact on the environment. He returned to Toronto for his professional career as a high school geography and history teacher. He began teaching at Runnymeade Collegiate Institute, but the rapid expansion of Scarborough meant that just three years into his career he took up a department headship at Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate institute. He remained at Mac for the remainder of his career – always proud to be a Black Scot. He retired with over a year’s worth of sick days accumulated which is a testament to the way in which he approached his work. He was a popular teacher both because he taught wonderful lessons, based on his wide knowledge base but also because he was fair and kind. He also dedicated many windy afternoons to coaching girls’ soccer teams while at Mac. He and Joan had three kids which became their focus. Dave, spent many hours driving Susan, Dan & Chris to various games, practices, rehearsals. Dave and Joan provide so many opportunities for their children and to their grandchildren.

Joan and Dave were married for 56 years and thankfully were able to stay living together until the end. After Dave had a stroke, they moved from Toronto to Waterloo and made their home the Westhill Retirement Residence. Near to daughter Susan & grandchildren Dawson & Riley. Dave enjoyed time spent watching his grandchildren grow. Dave was also lucky to have his son Dan nearby for support right until the end. Although far away in Malaysia, he was truly loved by Chris and his wife Jen Hardie and their children Liam and Finley. Dave enjoyed the opportunities afforded by the Westhill, particularly the trivia sessions. The staff at the Westhill took great care of Dave and Joan as things got harder. They are particularly thankful for the dedication of all the PSWs who live and breathe compassion and care.

His memory will also be cherished by David’s sister Lynn Volzke & husband Fred; niece Lysa & her children Alyssa, Kianna, Kiarra & Adejah; and nephews Jeff & Jodee; and by his brother-in-law David Harrison & wife Heather. His loss is also felt at Jubilee United Church in Don Mills, where Dave volunteered his time freely in a variety of positions helping steward the amalgamation and growth of merging of many churches into one. He enjoyed summers travelling, especially across Canada and there are the slides to prove it. In the beginning it was camping, but gradually they became hotel stops. Dave did all the driving until the final few, but he relished it as a wonderful way to see the country that he loved. When not visiting their timeshare in Banff, time was spent relaxing at his cottage in Harcourt Park – swimming, canoeing and quiet reading. It also included the occasional loud breakfast prep, when Dave the early riser was tired of waiting for the rest of the family to awake. Whether with basketball friends, work colleagues or others, weekly pub visits with his friends, sharing trivia and sports’ talk were also important to Dave. He will be remembered as a generous, intelligent and loving man. He will be missed by so many.

Friends and Family may join the service via livestream 11 am Thursday, October 8 at the following link: https://www.henrywalser.com/live-streaming

Please feel free to share memories and photos on this forum. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Jubilee United Church or the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

____________________

My dad taught me patience and that kindness and care for others is the right path to be successful but more importantly the right way to be a good person.

No matter what we needed, he was there. Driving me and my friends and siblings all manner of places at whatever time of night. Lending me his car during lunch periods in High School for trips to Taco Bell. He always said. Yes I can do that. I’ve tried to emulate the sense of calm and easy-going manner that he had. Going with the flow with a sense of humour.

When I shared the news of dad’s passing on a Sir John A. Macdonald alumni facebook page, many lovely comments and memories have come back. There are three people and counting that highlighted the fact that they studied Geography at University in large part due to Dad’s influence. Overwhelmingly the comments mentioned his kindness, fairness and his sense of humour.

I’ve been reflecting on how much I see of him in my own children and in Susie’s kids. They all show a curiosity about the world around them, they love the outdoors and like the long distance runner in Dad, they never stop moving. He loved them all so very much.

I saw my dad every day for 30 years and then I moved to the UK and I write this now from my home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Even though in high school I didn’t fill my schedule with Geography, it was clearly imprinted on me early that there is a big wide world out there that was worth seeing, people worth meeting. So although I was never just down the road you meant the world to me, dad.

I love you and miss you.
Your son
Chris

____________________

Irish novelist, playwright, and author J. Hart once wrote: “There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines in our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it, ease like water over a stone, onto its fluid contours, and are home.”

My dad found his geography of the soul long ago. I like the metaphor of RUNNING WATER rather than the SEQUENCE OF MOMENTS to encapsulate a life lived well,
…lived happy,
…lived contented
…lived knowing YOU ARE WHERE YOU SHOULD BE.

But moments ///are how our memories of someone’s life work. THIS MOMENT WE’RE IN RIGHT NOW IS SAD; it’s hard to sum up a life, a happy life I think, when we dwell only on this moment.

So to use a different geography-inspired quotation, another writer says, “what the map cuts up, the story cuts across.” Let me tell you a few stories about my dad:

I am the first born and the only daughter, and I’m pretty certain I was spoiled as an only child for the first five years of my life until my brother Danny was born. I was probably spoiled after that as well.

As the only driver in the household until his kids became teenagers, Dad did all the grocery shopping, he carted us to swimming lessons, or me to soccer practice.
I can’t remember how many soccer tournaments Dad took me to, but A LOT—annual ones in Montreal or indoor practice in the winter in the gym of a local high school or games from Oshawa to Burlington

On weekends, Dad frequently cooked big breakfasts: eggs, bacon, and pancakes.

On holidays, he was there to record everything on film or camera. For many Christmases, Dad stood at the bottom of the stairs Christmas morning filming his kids with his 8mm camera to capture our eager faces, only just recovering because of the blinding spotlight that took out your vision as you came down the stairs just as you were trying to see what Santa had brought you.

Holidays also meant connecting with family in Hamilton to visit Auntie Lynn, Dad’s sister, and Uncle Fred, all my cousins and their kids, and for many years also my grandmother, Dad’s mom, for quite a lot of eating and merriment. Or spending a good chunk of Boxing Day with Uncle David and Aunt Heather, alternating between our house or theirs. FAMILY WAS IMPORTANT TO DAD.

My parents bought a home in the burbs of Toronto, in Scarborough (then a separate city), in the late 1960s. They raised their family there on Castle Hill and lived there until 2017 when they moved to Waterloo following my Dad’s stroke.

This was a new subdivision and when they moved in, it was full of similar late-20/early 30 couples with young kids—so I have fond memories of the community that my Dad helped to make into an EXTENDED FAMILY OF FRIENDS.
There were book clubs (which I think were drinking clubs for all the parents),
fireworks in somebody’s backyard whenever there was a holiday that had fireworks (probably illegal now),
and the annual tradition of New Year’s Eve at someone’s house in the neighbourhood—it rotated.
GOOD FOOD, GOOD NEIGHBOURS: the Fawcetts, the Bells, the LeNefews, the McPhersons, the McLeods, the Hughes, the Kemps—great friendships

These friendships nurtured my Dad and provided me with a model of what neighbourly-ness, a lost art these days, looks like.

As I grew older, I came to share my Dad’s love of science fiction TV shows like Star Trek or Dr. Who, which we often watch together. He was also an avid reader, getting literally at least a dozen library books out every two weeks as night-time reading. I probably took after him here too, when I think of how many books I own or that I’ve bought for my kids.

As one might expect for a geographer, DAD LOVED TO TRAVEL—in his younger days he toured Europe, travelling across the Atlantic by ship with friends and later with Mom. But he was especially well travelled within Canada, and loved to record what he saw with his 35mm camera (one that used film and only later a digital SLR one).

I had been coast to coast before I was 2 years old, as my parents liked to camp—not backcountry mind you, but in a tent staying in national and provincial parks, and getting to campsites BY CAR BUT WITH A LOT OF DETOURS, & as time went on, staying in motels & hotels rather than in a tent.

We travelled out west quite a bit and he and mom purchased a time-share in Banff, as they liked the Rockies in particular. Mom and Dad eventually made it a regular summer trip to drive across the country to Banff. In the 1990s when I moved out to Vancouver to do my doctorate—I’d meet them in Calgary and then after a week in the Banff area, we’d drive back together to Vancouver.

Yes, cars often broke down on these epic trips: always on mountain passes under construction as heavy machinery was bearing down on our stalled car.

Dad’s pants once caught on fire at Takakkaw Falls—I don’t know how, but apparently when you put a pack of matches in your pocket for hours with the sun shining through the windshield, they can ignite when you get out to walk around!

But we ATE GOOD MEALS and saw AMAZING places, animals, scenery, northern lights, on those trips.

I have FOND MEMORIES OF VISITING HIM AT WORK when I younger—at the high school he taught for so many years, Sir John A. Macdonald. Dad was the Geography Dept Head there and I recall his office or maybe it was a storeroom-office just off of a classroom, and vivid memories of the thrill of being just a kid but getting to walk right into the staffroom.

He had many close friends who were teachers and their families: the Deusburys, the Meades. And many of his DRINKING BUDDIES who met at the same pub each week afterschool, and those who he PLAYED BASKETBALL with every week, were fellow teachers.

DAD LOVED BEING A TEACHER—and yes, while it mostly geography, he occasionally dabbled in history and other subjects for high school students, and even taught adult students courses in tourism and urban geography.
As the daughter of two teachers, I did pay heed to what being a good teacher looks like and sounds like, and DAD’S PRESENCE AS AN EDUCATOR SHAPED MY CAREER, even if I became a historian rather than a geographer, I did follow in his footsteps AS A TEACHER.

My parents met at church when they were young in Hamilton, and the United Church in Don Mills in Toronto, once Donminister, now called Jubilee, was a important part of Dad’s life for decades. He took on many leadership and service roles. The social justice bent and the openness of the United Church I think especially spoke to my Dad.

My family was also involved in a youth peace organization, Children’s International Summer Villages or CISV—our family founded the Toronto chapter and my Dad was active in the organization, personally welcoming visitor-kids from anywhere in the world as billets in our house, or sending his own kids to camps in Brazil or Sweden.

He showed me HOW TO BE PARENT when I became one, and was a fabulous grandfather to my kids and to Chris’s kids. MY SON DAWSON GAVE HIM THE MONIKER “PAPA”—which meant “person who loves me” because he actually called me “papa” for a while before he called me “mama”--all Dad’s grandkids adopted the term. I’M SO THANKFUL THEY GOT SPENT SO MUCH TIME WITH HIM—sleepovers at their place in Toronto and later here in Waterloo, travelling across the country, or hanging out at the cottage.
Dawson and Riley are going miss you a lot Dad, SO WILL I.

I WILL END AS I BEGAN:
There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it ease like water over a stone, onto its fluid contours, and are home.

….I like to think Dad knew how to read the MAP for this geography of his soul—HE FOUND THIS SENSE OF HOME in family and in friends, from early on in his life he carried it with him all his days.
I LOVE YOU DAD.

____________________

As honorary son number 3, I’m saddened that I couldn’t be with you today, but I look forward to seeing you all as soon as we’re allowed to gather. There’s some unhappy irony in the pandemic preventing us from gathering to honour Mr. Neylan - always Mr. Neylan to me, never Dave - as showing up is what he did best.

As a father myself now, I think this is the most precious of the many gifts I received from growing up around him: Mr. Neylan was always there for us. Any plan that we could concoct, he silently if not graciously played the role we assigned him. Logistics Support? Check. Arcane Information Provision? Check. Financier? Yup, that too. And the my goodness, the number of miles he logged as our Transport Captain? Countless, endless miles. Night or day. Far and near.

His level of selflessness bordered on the saintly and Mr. Neylan will always be with me when I feel like saying no to a request for help.

All of his many yeses helped make me the man I am today.

With much love -

Matt
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Service Details

Friends and Family may join the service via livestream 11 am Thursday, October 8 at the following link: https://www.henrywalser.com/live-streaming

Donations

Donations are being accepted for: HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION OF ONTARIO.

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JV

Jeffrey Volzke

Posted at 06:05pm

My heart is heavy with sadness knowing the loss of a wonderful, caring, kind, and very bright-minded man. Many cherished memories over the years especially during my youth as I was always very excited and eager to spend time with my Uncle Dave, Aunt Joan, and many loved cousins Chris, Danny, and Susie.

Wishing I could have been in your presence more often and I want you to know that you were always in my thoughts. I love you
RIP Uncle Dave XOXO.

Thinking of you Aunt Joan, Susie, Dawson & Riley, Danny, Chris, Jen, Liam & Finley during these difficult times.

Your father has touched so many lives and will be truly missed by many.


Jeffrey James Christopher Volzke
AR

Anthony Ross

Posted at 02:40pm
He was an amazing teacher. I studies geography because of him and loved to teach it.
CR

Chris Ross

Posted at 12:08pm
What a lovely service. I have such fond memories of Dave - he was such a great guy, so warm and funny and open-minded. My deepest condolences to the entire Neylan family. Sending you all lots of love. xx Chris
GU

Gillian Uy

Posted at 11:48am
Our deepest condolences to Joan, Susan, Dan, Chris and their families. Your family was so instrumental to the founding of CISV Toronto and for that, I am truly thankful. He smile and gentle soul could light up a room. You will always be remembered and will live through not only your children, but in all those he touched with his spirit. Love Gill and Rick
MN

MO NAVO

Posted at 10:54am
Hi Joan and Family,
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Dave.
He was a great man and we enjoyed every minute that we spent with him especially our Montserrat Christmas get togethers. we will miss him greatly and may his soul rest in peace and have God's blessings.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the family.
Mo & Yvonne Navo
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