A man with salt and pepper hair and hazelnut eyes goes about his morning routine. He scans his reflection carefully in the mirror, noticing the smile lines that have gathered around his eyes, trophies from years spent laughing with friends. He dons his uniform of choice, a blue flannelette shirt and a grey puffer vest. Bidding goodbye to Charlie his beloved dog, he travels to his job as Student Development Administrator.
He arrives at his office, It’s early.
His first task of the day is to obtain supplies for the morning’s SRC Breakfast.
The SRC won’t be around for hours.
This man is Dave Quinn and he has held the wheels on the wobbly cart that is SRC plans since the incorporation of the Voluntary Student Unionism took effect in the 90’s. It’s a job he does with joy and a seemingly effortless input.
Dave smiles as he hears others enter the office. The beautiful ladies he calls his’ “chooks” and “chikky babes.” Their excited giggles signal the beginning of a busy day. Outside he hears the familiar commotion of the SRC dragging BBQs, Tom Waits, and Shouting.
Dave goes to the balcony. Below, he sees the activities officer, bald head and beard with cigarette in hand as he shouts and directs. Dave thinks to himself “it will be ok, if only he could realise that and calm down”.
Dave as a person is summarised by those who know him as calm and full of joy. Indeed, one of his closest work mates, Vicki, affectionately refers to him as her “sweetness and light.” I can think of no better words to describe him. Whether you knew him as the type to dance on tables and air guitar to the smooth tones of a strummed pool cue, or you know him as a cheery face sitting behind a desk, walls adorned with concert posters and Double J filling the room there is no denying that Dave was the embodiment of sweetness and light. In the years spent working within the TUU, Dave was always there to help all who needed it. He was the one you turned to when the printer jammed and he was the one you leaned on when a fire alarm ruined the concert you spent months and thousands of dollars planning. Always smiling and always ready with the solution to make everything okay again, it seemed that anything that could be fixed, could be fixed by Dave.
It seems looking back now that there really was only one problem Dave couldn’t fix, and that was his battle with cancer. Even throughout his long battle with the vicious disease he managed to remain smiling, positive, and constantly fighting. Talking with one of his close friends Rikki, she says, “People would come in [to see Dave], he would be in a semi-coma and he would say ‘hello sweetheart, can I do anything for you? I have to go to work.’ I just remember being astounded by the humility someone could show when they were in that much pain.”
That really is it. Despite everything that was happening Dave not once wanted to burden anyone with what he felt was his battle.
It was a battle that he hadn’t expected to lose says Kate one of Dave’s close colleagues. Kate tells me that all Dave wanted was normality, that he thought it would be fine, even some of the doctors thought he would beat it.
Vicki, Kate, Ingrid, and Bronwyn, some of the loveliest ladies one could hope to meet and some of Dave’s close work colleagues agreed to an interview. They told me of one special relationship that Dave had with Deb. Deb made up the other half of what was lovingly referred to by Kate as a “dynamic duo,” and throughout Dave’s struggles she stood by his side. From getting his car repaired, to being a shoulder to cry on she did all she could to make his life easier. They had a close working relationship. They talked about trips away, and supported each other through their struggles. While Deb was unavailable for an interview, the words she wrote in Dave’s memoriam book told me all I needed to know. Simply: “Someone so special to me will never be forgotten, Deb.”
There is no better way that I can think of to explain Dave than that. Someone so special to me will never be forgotten. It’s so perfect, because it’s true.
There is no one else like Dave.
Dave has left such a large hole in so many lives that will never truly be filled. I know he has left a hole in mine. In the short time I knew Dave, I learnt so much. He was my mentor; he was my friend. I couldn’t have achieved what I did without him, and I thank him for that.
When I entered the TUU as a member of the SRC I was a hot headed chef, when I left I was calm. I knew how to approach a problem with a smile and that there would be a way to make it all work. I owe that to Dave.
I want to leave you with the answer to a question that I asked Rikki during our interview: Explain Dave in a sentence. “Dave, to me, can’t be explained in a sentence.” It’s true. Dave can’t be explained in a sentence, or even 100 sentences, because Dave was more than hollow adjectives. Dave was a feeling, Dave was everything you ever needed him to be and more, Dave was sweetness and light.
Good bye Dave. I’ll never forget you. I will carry you in my heart to guide me forever.