Squamish gathers to remember Dan Savage 

Squamish was reminded this week how quickly tragedy can strike as over 500 gathered to say goodbye to one of the town's brightest young stars.

Earlier this month Dan Savage died in a fall during a late night celebration of his 17th birthday with friends at a local gravel pit.

The teen, an honours student at Howe Sound Secondary, dreamed of being a sports broadcaster or journalist and attending Harvard University.

A massive sports fan, he was also a star hockey player with the Squamish Eagles hockey team, wearing #16 for former Vancouver Canuck Trevor Linden - one of Savage's heroes.

The memorial was held on the 16th for the same reason.

As the community filed into the Brennan Park Community Centre for the Celebration of Life Monday, it was a sea of sports jerseys, from Savage's own Eagles team to the Canucks to football and baseball.

A wall became a shrine with his team jerseys and a dozen letters of condolences from teams near and far including the Chicago Blackhawks, the Canucks, the Colorado Avalanche, the Minnesota Wild, the Calgary Flames and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As the service began a letter from Linden was read out:

"Clearly Dan had a huge impact on his family and friends," wrote Linden adding that he thought they would have had much in common.

"He was an outstanding young man with a very bright future. The very fact that I might have had some small part in shaping the way Dan lived his life is very meaningful to me. It's actually more meaningful than Stanley Cups, individual trophies, or jerseys. For this at the end of the day is maybe the most important reason that I play hockey."

Quiet weeping could be heard throughout the auditorium as dad Paul Savage reminded friends, families and mourners of his son's love of life, his sense of humour and his determination to succeed at whatever he did. His first trick on the family was his birth, said Savage.

"We were all expecting another girl," he said tearfully going on to recall their shared love of sports, playing board games and fun-filled vacations taken together.

"I am very proud to be his dad."

Mom Jutta Savage and sisters Candice and Melanie, though at the service, told mourners about Daniel in pre-recorded messages. Those gathered heard of how the sisters loved to dress their little brother up in tutus and long black wigs even doing his make-up and painting his nails when he was small. As they grew theirs became a deep and abiding friendship.

Said Jutta Savage: "This is the saddest and hardest time of my life. I wish more than anything right now that we could enjoy a chat about sports and school, family..."

"The 16 years I had with you son are the best loved years a mom could ask for. I have and will cherish every second we were together for the rest of my years.

"I love you with all my heart son, and not one day will go by without thoughts of you."

After the memorial Jutta Savage said she hoped her son could act as an inspiration for others as they work hard to fulfill their dreams.

She was touched by how many came out to say a last farewell finally realizing how many lives her son had touched.

Said Savage's uncle, Mike Urban: "Sorrow fills our hearts at this sad moment, a sorrow that is deep and personal.

"A value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive, and in one word Daniel was a man who gave.

"Here was a life that exemplified brilliance, a life that inspired emulation, a life that burned bright so that other's paths were lit.

"What an exceptional human being. He made us smile, he made us laugh, he has made us cry...

"His song has ended but his melody lives on."

As the celebration came to a close friends and family chose and placed a Gerber daisy on the casket, which had been carried in earlier by friends and hockey team members.

Along with the flowers many placed hockey pucks - a picture of Savage on one side and #16 on the other.

Said a friend and teammate: "We are all going to miss you so much."

A scholarship fund in Savage's memory is being put together by the Rotary Club of Squamish. For more information go to www.squamishrotary.com.




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