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Thursday November 29, 2012

David Phillip Harris

Husband, father, executive-search consultant, musician, best friend. Born Feb. 24, 1961, in Cape Town, died May 8, 2012, in Toronto of melanoma, aged 51.

Dave had an idyllic childhood as the middle child, and only son, of Ann and Ralph Harris. He and his sisters, Susan and Jenny, grew up in the close community of Germiston, South Africa, surrounded by sunshine and love.

He met his soul mate, Melanie, on the beach in Cape Town when he was 14.

After he had completed university and the army, they married in 1986 and set out with two backpacks in 1987.

They travelled for almost two years, exploring different cultures and searching for new opportunities.

They met many Canadians along the way and fell in love with this country before arriving in Toronto in 1989.

Dave and Melanie were happily married for 26 years and blessed with three sons, Sam, Jonti and Jake, whom Dave adored.

His world was full of fun, music and colour. He had a wonderful knack for making everyone else feel good.

Big in spirit as well as physique, he filled a room as soon as he entered it.

You would often see Dave with his eyes closed, trying something interesting on one of his guitars.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

And then he would look up with a glint in his eye, shake his head and laugh.

He loved rock 'n' roll, jazz and country, and was on a constant quest for the new thing: the next artist to listen to.

Dave pushed himself. Rest was optional.

Home was a flurry of boys' activities, a busy household filled with sports equipment, food, friends and visitors.

There was always another hockey game to support, a golf tournament to watch, a call to make.

He joined Procter & Gamble in 1990 and worked his way to brand manager.

A few years later, he joined Egon Zehnder and embraced the global executive-search firm as his second family. His clients and colleagues became close friends and he enjoyed mentoring.

Dave was all about heart. And generosity. He always had time to listen and always thought about others.

He was a proud Canadian, and was honoured to carry the Olympic flame through the streets of Toronto as part of the Winter Olympics in 2009.

He was a spiritual man who loved Judaism, with its many celebrations and meanings.

Through his long battle with illness, treatments, hospitals and waiting rooms, he remained positive and kept his faith. He was courageous.

He had dignity. And he didn't want any fuss.

Dave was passionate about his work as a board member of Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. He taught his boys that all a man has is his reputation. He was a fantastic role model, a larger-than-life figure who inspired, charmed and befriended everyone he met.

He said at the end that he felt like he was watching a wonderful movie, but his plane was landing too early. He wished he had more time to enjoy all he loved.

There was not enough time to do all that he wanted, but the time he had was perfect.

Melanie Harris is David's wife and Neil Waters is David's friend.

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