News / Halifax

Friends share stories and tears over Raymond Taavel

Raymond Taavel would have thought Sunday's proceedings a whole lot of “fuss,” according to Marion Steele.

But you can be sure he'd be leading the procession if it had been anyone else, his friend of seven years added.

“He'd think this is a big fuss, and we should all probably be at the bar having a beer,” said Steele as hundreds gathered in Grand Parade for a memorial march to a service held in Taavel's memory on Sunday at St. Matthew's United Church. “But here we are, and he would be, I think, if this was somebody else and Raymond was here today, he'd be leading us off.”

Steele was but one of many who gathered Sunday to share stories about the man – and shed tears at his passing.

Taavel's friend and colleague, Barry Boyce, read the eulogy on behalf of Taavel's partner of a decade, Darren Lewis.

“I've learned that people you love can be taken in an instant, but love cannot. I've learned that even though you will never walk in again and say 'honey, I'm home,' you'll always have a home with me,” read Boyce.

“Goodbye my Raymond, go be with God, and save me a seat.”

Despite the sadness, friends remembered Taavel's infectious smile and seemingly inexhaustible energy for helping Nova Scotia's gay community.

“The way he could get you to open up with that bulldog-like, but gentle, tenacity and that oh-so-caring way of his determined inquisitions,” said Rev. Jennifer Paty at St. Matthew's United Church. “He was just that kind of guy. If you sit with him with more than five minutes you might have yourself feeling somewhere between confession and therapy.”

Donations in Taavel's memory can be made to the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, the Youth Project, or Mobile Outreach Street Health.

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