By Catherine Villeneuve, CFSG(O-G) Public Affairs –
It was a sad day for many when the Ottawa community learnt of the passing of Mr. Dave Smith, CM, O.Ont. on Friday, 4 September, 2020 at the age of 87.
To say that the local military community’s grief came at a shock upon hearing of the well-known philanthropist and entrepreneur’s death is an understatement. Indeed, Mr. Smith held a unique place within the local Canadian Defence Community as he held the role of Honorary Colonel (HCol) to the Canadian Forces Support Group (Ottawa-Gatineau) – then known as Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa), from 2012 to 2018. The first and only HCol to be appointed to the unit, he made a point of shining as brightly as he could in this position and leaving an unforgettable mark.
Amongst the countless messages of love and support that came pouring in from military members and civilian employees alike, all had this in common: Dave was always present for the unit and continuously involved with the local military community. Former Base Commanders were quick to share fond memories of their time spent alongside HCol Smith over the course of their respective mandate.
« Dave made the biggest gift one can make, that is his time. He never hesitated to help us to make Family Appreciation Days a success and would assist with the volunteer appreciation events. He always took the time for others and made every community better, including the military community. An example of his work was his role of live auctioneer at the MFRC-NCR’s Gala to help raise funds for CAF families and make the event an enjoyable success. Honorary Colonel Dave Smith will be sorely missed.” Captain (Navy) Daniel Bouchard, current Commander CFB Ottawa-Gatineau and former Senior Administration Officer, CFSU(O) (2013-2015).
He always took the time for others and made every community better, including the military community.
“During my two years as Base Commander, I was blessed and privileged to have Dave as our unit Honorary Colonel. With incredible energy, Dave embraced all aspects of the role. Present at every unit parade and function, he beamed with pride whenever he got to put his uniform on. Never one to miss an opportunity to make people happy, Dave personally presided over serving food whenever he could, taking the time to get to know the troops and share a laugh. At every event he never failed to remind the unit of how proud he was of the work we did and how honoured he was to be associated with the military. Dave was our first Honorary Colonel and we were in awe of this amazing Canadian who so graciously gave his free time to represent us and be a part of our military family.” Major-General Richard Goodyear, former Commandant CFSU(O) (2016-2018)
Present at every unit parade and function, he beamed with pride whenever he got to put his uniform on.
“It is with great sadness that Carolyn and I heard of David Smith’s passing. Dave’s commitment to helping others and fundraising activities are well documented. I wish to remember and acknowledge him for his military contributions. I had the privilege of working directly with David in his role as Honorary Colonel during my tenure as Commandant CFSU(O). He took great pride in wearing the uniform and was a great supporter of the CAF. Along with his wife Darlene, he attended many functions including fundraising events in support of MFRC activities, Remembrance Day ceremonies or even something as simple as cooking a meal for soldiers at a unit event where they were delighted to have a personal conversation with him. It is a privilege to have worked with Dave. He will be missed by all of us. We shall remember him.” Colonel (retired) Daniel Vermeersch, former Commandant CFSU(O) (2014-2016).
He will be missed by all of us. We shall remember him.
Dave was larger than life and left a legacy so impactful it touched every single one of us who met him, from the highest level of leadership to staff working on the ground.
“Dave Smith was a kind, loving, and caring individual,” expressed Joshua Denis, former staff within the Commandant’s Executive Suite. “I will forever remember him for his calming and joyous presence at every event we held… for that contagious smile with a side of humour at every Honours & Awards ceremony and the same energy he brought to Nate’s Deli at our unit’s BBQs,” he added.
CFSU(O) members bid farewell to HCol Smith back in June of 2018, after a six-year tenure, during an emotional end-of-mandate ceremony held at the Régiment de Hull, in Gatineau QC. The ceremony was marked by gifts illustrating his continued involvement with the staff, praise and a standing ovation for the man who genuinely cared about our troops. From raising more than $150 million for charitable causes around the globe to resolutely supporting the CAF through both his general advocacy and work on the Military Families Fund, HCol Smith was well deserving of his many honours, both civilian and military, that include the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, The Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, and many more.
“It is with great sadness that Ann and I learnt of the passing of Dave Smith. Dave was a man of honour, of special occasions and highly respected by everyone in the community for helping thousands of young people in distress. When Dave wore the uniform his eyes would light up and you could feel the pride and honour he felt being CFSU(O)’s HCol. With his wife Darlene by his side, he took part in several formal ceremonies and parades, but there’s one I remember in particular where he was lucky enough to lay a wreath at the Canadian War Memorial during the 2017 Remembrance Day ceremony. He was very proud of it and felt privileged to honour our brave Fallen. I was blessed to be able to serve alongside Dave and he will be forever remembered. Rest in peace my friend; mission accomplished.” Chief Warrant Officer (retired) Dany Dubuc, former National Defence Headquarters Chief Warrant Officer (2016-2019)
He was very proud of it and felt privileged to honour our brave Fallen
Dave’s cooking was appreciated by all, especially on unit Sports Days where he would set up his BBQ grill and greet every participant with a wide grin and a good burger. He also used his ‘Place Downstairs’ – his small commercial kitchen set up in the basement of his home, to host private dinner parties for guests ranging from influential Canadians to friends and family; a place where all could relax amongst friends. Every year he would host CFSU(O)’s Senior Officers and Non-Commissioned Members at home, in the ‘Place Downstairs’ and guests would be invited to cook with the master who was always happy to pass on his knowledge and skills on and around the grill. David took everything he learned from his parents – strong family values and unwavering work ethics, and built a restaurant and catering business that stretched from Ontario to California.
“It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Honorary Colonel Smith; my sincere condolences to all his family and friends. Mr. Smith was an example of generosity and sharing for all of us on the PSP team. He always demonstrated a spirit of sharing with everyone he met. Whether it was at Defence Community Family Appreciation Days, CAF National Sports Day, or unit events, Honorary Colonel Smith was a loving father who did not hesitate to actively support members of the Canadian Armed Forces community. Thank you Mr. Smith for your continued support, your invaluable advice and above all for your passion for people,” shared Luc Girard, Senior Manager of PSP, CFB Ottawa-Gatineau
Honorary Colonel Smith was a loving father who did not hesitate to actively support members of the Canadian Armed Forces community.
Our hearts are with his family and wife Darlene as we mourn the loss of a great man; one who put others before himself throughout his life, exemplified by his countless acts of generosity for the entire community.
To learn more about Dave’s foundation please visit the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre website at https://www.davesmithcentre.org.
To read more about the Mayor’s proclamation of “Dave Smith Day” please visit https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/friday-proclaimed-dave-smith-day-to-honour-late-restaurateur-philanthropist
This post is also available in: Français (French)