CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News
Ask anyone at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex about Dave Simanton and a warm smile comes over their face.
“He always had a smile on his face and was one of those guys that was a pleasure to be around,” said friend Cam Rice as he reflected.
Rice sat on the Ponoka Minor Hockey Association Board with Simanton and said he always admired his dedication.
“Guys like that, that donate their time and energy and still manage to make it to all of their kids hockey games and practices…It was just his personality and the amount that he gave,” said Rice.
Simanton was on a family trip in Mexico in February when he told his wife Krista he didn’t feel well and was going to return to the hotel room. Less than 15 minutes later, Krista went to check on Dave to find that he had died suddenly as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage.
“It feels like a bad dream, a dream that hasn’t ended yet,” said Krista Simanton while tears ran down the cheeks of her face. “I just pretend it didn’t happen and then it doesn’t hurt.”
Dave left behind wife Krista and four children Tyson, 16, Shelby, 15, Jake 8, and Luke, 6. The loss has galvanized the family, bringing them closer to each other than ever before.
“There has been tons of family and friends and we have leaned on each other to get through,” said Krista.
She’s also been blown away by the support the family has received from the community.
“It’s very humbling. You don’t know how you could ever thank them for what they have done and people are really kind. People have come by and they keep coming and it is nice to not be by yourself,” said Krista.
The love and affection the Simanton family has been shown is a testament to the character and life that Dave lived.
On May 7 the Ponoka Minor Hockey Association will host an auction and fundraiser in memory of Dave.
“The funny thing is, there are all these nice things that people are doing for us and I want to come home and tell Dave all about it,” said Krista. “You know that he would be really honored.”
For the Simantons, the little things have become the big things now.
“Pillow fights,” said Luke with a big smile when asked what he remembers about his dad.
Jake remembered watching movies and hanging out.
Shelby remembered how proud her dad was when she got the opportunity to skate with the Ponoka Figure Skating Club’s pre-novice synchro team at an Anaheim Ducks game in California.
And Tyson pointed to one of the family’s favorite pastimes, quadding with his dad on their family farm or on one of the many trips they would take into the backcountry.
Dave was a blue collared farmer. He worked hard, respected his neighbours and loved his family.
“He always had an extra shovel for shoveling crap outside the feedlot,” said Krista as the whole family laughed. “He had the little guys helping them out there, you had to shovel bunks.”
“Five dollars a bunk,” chimed in young Luke, a statement that got everyone laughing even louder.
The farm life is full of long days and Dave’s hardworking no-nonsense approach and dedication to his family meant quite a few really long days.
“He really liked watching the kids at their activities and of course the little guys are early in the morning so he would get up at three in the morning to do chores to make sure he was at the hockey game on time,” said Krista.
It’s those same little things that catch the family off guard from time to time.
“The hardest thing is waking up in the morning and I hear the tractor start and it’s not him. It’s scary and sad. It feels like a bad movie. It feels like he’s just away and that he should be coming back any day now but I’ll never see him again,” said Krista.
She admitted it was hard to speak about Dave but that it was important to talk about him and in many ways, “it helped keep him alive.”
The fundraiser starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Stage Coach Saloon and everyone is welcome.
“If there’s a town or a community that will come together for an event like this it will be this town,” said Rice about the night.
The event will be a celebration of Dave’s life and Rice said there would be a surprise or two throughout the night.
And although Dave may not by physically in the building Krista said he’ll be there and he’ll continue to do what he’s always loved to do — watch his children.
“I strongly believe that he is in heaven watching down on us and I know that he’s watching the kids and he’s still watching them and their activities,” said Krista.