Less than 24 hours after revealing an idea to memorialize her step-father, Barb Davy’s phone was pinging non-stop with messages of support, as well as donations — reaching a third of their goal in a short amount of time.
As of Monday (Jan. 11) afternoon, the family has exceeded their original goal of $3,000 to erect a bench with a plaque in North Thompson Provincial Park (NTPP) to memorialize “Smiley” Dave Cooper, who passed away peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with rheumatoid arthritis on Dec. 11, 2020.
In just a few short days, over $3,400 was raised from about 40 donors.
“I was blown away,” said Davy. “My phone was just blowing up last night (Jan. 7) and this morning (Jan. 8). I was on my phone and the computer from six o’clock this morning until 7:30 and then I had to get ready to go to work. It was just constantly dinging!”
Initially, she was going to set up a GoFundMe account for the fundraiser, and had posted on the Clearwater Info Board Facebook group to see what kind of traction there would be. Because of the massive response, an update to the post said they had decided against the GoFundMe page as they wished all of the funds to go towards the bench.
The Facebook post has almost 100 comments of support.
“Everybody knew him and everybody loved him,” said an emotional Davy. “He wasn’t even known by his last name — everybody knew him as “Smiley” Dave because he smiled all the time and he made everybody feel good.”
Davy said the idea for the bench came to her suddenly while relaxing in front of the T.V., but decided on Pogey Park in NTPP because of her mother, Jan Cooper, and Dave’s connection to the area.
The couple took care of NTPP, as well as Spahats’ campground, in the early ’90s until the early 2000s. They operated under the company name “Dau Avon Ventures,” which is Welsh for “where the two rivers meet,” to signify the confluence of the Clearwater and North Thompson Rivers.
When the Government of B.C. cancelled the local contracts and implemented the bundle system, Wells Gray Provincial Park, Spahats and the NTPP became part of the same contract. The Blackwells took over that contract around 2003, and took over the operations at NTPP.
Dave and Jan, wanting a change of pace, worked for Paul and Merlin Blackwell, running the Mahood Lake Campground until their retirement in 2010.
“Dave is a legend in what we do — it’s no lie,” said Merlin Blackwell. “His happy personality and his level of customer service…it was off the scale. Ten years after he was done working for NTPP, people are going, ‘Hey, where’s Dave? Awe, we really miss Dave, he was such a great guy to have here!’ He was so awesome at what he did.”
Davy reached out to Blackwell about the sponsorship program through BC Parks. He agreed the bench in Pogey Park would be a great way to memorialize Dave Cooper, especially with the current gathering restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Had the family been allowed to hold a proper memorial or funeral service, he figured half the town would’ve shown up.
“I think because of his role and the people that remember him, that would be a perfect place to memorialize him in BC Parks,” said Blackwell.
Those who would like to donate money can contact Barb Davy at email@example.com.