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October 27, 2013

Patrick Harrington, extraordinary citizen

Thursday last, Halifax lost a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and I lost a friend.  Here is a small tribute to a person who had  a huge and lasting influence on our community and who died much too soon.

Patrick Harrington was a kind and gentle man.  In a way, that's all you need to know, but there is a great deal more.

Patrick Harrington was a kind and gentle man who loved his family and was loved in return.  Especially by his treasured Julia, who brings her own gentleness and steeliness from far away Little Bay Island.  And his sons!  Proud father and supporter of Morgan and Jonah, always understanding.  Doting grandfather, mindful of the magic and responsibility of such a blessing.  He was devoted to his siblings, who seem equally devoted to him.  During his month in Toronto General, he spoke often of how much he missed his home and family.

Patrick Harrington was a kind and gentle man who loved and served his community.  Although he was born in Connecticut, he seemed to know everything there is to know about Halifax.  He had a mental map of the city accurate to the minutest detail.  He could guide you down the one-way streets and tell you exactly where you were.  "We're just passing  Cousin's Restaurant".  He was the patient and slightly exasperated chairman of HRM's Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities.  He served on the Access-a-Bus committee.  As Chairman of The Canadian National Institute for the Blind's VISTA committee, he helped guide HRM on accessible pedestrian travel.  Because he expected the best, sometimes his community disappointed him, often in relation to where his beloved service dog Orville was welcomed.  A person of culture, Patrick was proud of his city's cultural achievements.

Patrick Harrington was a kind and gentle man of great faith and courage.  Faith was not a topic we discussed, but his attachment to his church and pastor were an obvious source of peace and strength.  As he considered the possibility of a transplant, he was able to do so with clarity and bravery.  He seemed to know more medicine than most doctors; maybe not every detail, but all the implications and nuances.  He seemed to be unafraid.

Patrick Harrington was a kind and gentle man and a special friend to me.  His enviable brain was full of wise counsel.  He offered the diplomatic solution when I would be ready for revenge.  He remembered small details of my life.  He paid attention to me and made me feel worthy.  He praised my successes and sympathized with my failures.  He was all a friend should be.

Patrick Harrington was a kind and gentle man who will be greatly missed.  

Gus Reed

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