Killaloe – The community has lost another life-long citizen, community booster and volunteer.
Retired businessman Danny Harrington passed away at the Madawaska Valley Hospice Palliative Care facility in Barry’s Bay last Tuesday evening after being transferred there several days earlier. He is being remembered for his love of community, his knowledge of the history of the village and his numerous volunteer contributions with various committees.
Mr. Harrington co-owned and operated Killaloe Hardware for over 20 years, but his connection to the popular retail outlet extends back some 48 years. The business had been owned by his in-laws, Emerson and Madge Lepine who purchased it in 1969. In 1991, Mr. Harrington’s wife, Wendy (Lepine) and her sister Judy, bought the store from her parents, and when Judy opened a full-time Service Ontario outlet in the store in 1996, Mr. Harrington bought her share to become co-owner with his wife.
The business was known for its elaborate window displays, its ability to stock nearly everything, and when something couldn’t be found there, Mr. Harrington was always willing to order it in. He sold the business to employee Barb Perrigo in October 2017.
In addition to his business, he found time to be very active as a volunteer in the community. He was a founding member of the Killaloe Business In Action group, a board member with the Killaloe and District Food Bank, and the chair of the Irish Gathering committee. He was also known for his deep love and knowledge of local history and if he didn’t know the answer to a question, he would direct you to someone that did.
Bil Smith, executive director of the Community Resource Centre (CRC), said Mr. Harrington loved his community and was a very important member of the board at the CRC.
“Danny first joined the CRC board of directors in 2014, so we’ve been together for quite some time volunteering,” he said. “He was a solid rock on our board, a great community volunteer.
“He was always looking for what could we do next, how could we make things better,” he added.
Mr. Smith said Mr. Harrington was truly respected for his opinions and appreciated for his great sense of humour.
“We worked with him to move the food bank over into our North Street Community Centre,” he said. “It’s much more accessible and welcoming, and they’ve really been able to meet the needs of the community in a way they wouldn’t have in their previous location in the (basement of St. Andrew’s Church).
“He really wanted to take care of people,” he continued.
Mr. Harrington was a founding member of the Killaloe BIA (Business in Action) committee which was created to bring the businesses in Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards Township together to better promote themselves.
Mr. Smith said that started as a conversation on the Harrington’s back porch with himself and Brooke and Melissa Tremback.
“Then we invited Chris Neff (Community Development Co-ordinator) along, and the rest is history”
He said the BIA has been growing slowly but surely.
Mr. Smith said Mr. Harrington not only knew lots of the history of Killaloe, but he also had a vast repertoire of funny stories he loved to share.
When he first moved to Killaloe, Mr. Smith always enjoyed going into the hardware store.
“I used to say that he had had one of absolutely everything. He never let me down when I went into the store looking for something.
“He always seemed to have it and I think that was his reputation,” he added.
Mr. Smith said Mr. Harrington’s passing will leave a big void in the community.
“He left some big shoes to fill,” he remarked. “He taught me so much.
“One of the best things he taught me was to never hold a grudge,” he said.
One of A Kind
Mr. Neff had high praise for Mr. Harrington, noting he had the unique ability to be able to bring people together to work co-operatively on an event.
“You could have 20 people ready to volunteer, but you need someone to unite and direct that group, and Danny certainly had that ability. He loved his community and whenever there was an event, you knew Danny would be around to participate.”
He said Mr. Harrington was a very active and valuable volunteer in the community.
“He was a huge piece of our community and a personal mentor of mine and someone I looked up to quite a bit. It’s definitely a huge loss for our community.
“He was just one of those faces that was always around at everything in the community. You’d always see him there,” he added. “I’m going to miss seeing him out and about at our events. He’ll be sorely missed.”
Shortly after his hiring, Mr. Neff launched the Community-Minded page in the township newsletter. After talking to many people about who would best exemplify that role, everyone, to a person, told him it was Danny Harrington.
Mr. Neff echoed Mr. Smith’s comments about Mr. Harrington being instrumental in the formation of the Killaloe BIA.
“Danny had, for a long time, tried to get something going with the businesses, having been business owner himself. He really was the heart and soul of it and was one of the founding members for sure.”
Mr. Harrington was currently the chair of the Irish Gathering Committee and a huge supporter throughout its nine-year history.
“This was going to be the 10th anniversary and I know he was really excited for that. But he’ll be with us in spirit as we go through this process.”
“We have a meeting tonight (Thursday), and it’s going to be pretty rough that he’s not there with us,” he added.
He relied on Mr. Harrington as the “wise man of Killaloe” explaining that if he didn’t know the answer to some question on the history of the area, he could connect you with someone who had the answer.
“He knew the people and what they are connected to and that’s just as important,” he remarked. “He’d get you their number and set up a time when you could call, setting the stage for a good conversation.”
Mr. Neff said Mr. Harrington was a man of faith who had the ability to approach things with a positive outcome despite the situation.
“Towards the end when he was doing his treatments and all that stuff, he was still positive about it and was grateful to just be able to walk around. The last day I went to visit him, he couldn’t get out of bed, but he was still positive and laughing, and I think that says a lot.
“Even though he was fighter to keep going, he also had this inner peace about him which I think carried him a long way in his life,” he continued.
Mr. Neff said one of the last things Mr. Harrington said to him was to “keep going, stay positive, and every once in a while say a little prayer”.
A Great Mentor
Barb Perrigo purchased Killaloe Hardware from Mr. Harrington in 2017 after having worked for him for about five years. However, the two were longtime friends and neighbours for many years.
“I lived right beside him for over 28 years and worked for Danny for about five years. I was always doing stuff with Danny.
“My boys would cut their grass or move their snow and we were always affiliated with them,” she added.
She said after attending the gift show with Mr. Harrington in 2016, he asked her if she would be interested in purchasing the business, which she admits came as quite a surprise to her.
“It meant lots,” she said when asked what it meant to her that Mr. Harrington felt she was capable of carrying on his successful business.
She said the business was successful because of Mr. Harrington, explaining he tried to stock everything the clientele wanted, and if he didn’t have it in stock, he would order it in.
Mrs. Perrigo said he would generally stop into the store once or twice a week, adding he was a great resource she will really miss.
“When he got sick, he wasn’t around and I really missed those visits,” she said.
She said Mr. Harrington will also be missed in his numerous volunteer roles.
“He was a great employer, a great neighbour and a great mentor,” she said.
A Straight-Up Guy
KHR Mayor Dave Mayville said Mr. Harrington represented the true spirit of Killaloe as both a businessman and community volunteer.
“He’ll be tremendously missed and remembered by the many friends and colleagues he touched throughout his life.”
He first got to know Mr. Harrington through his hardware store.
“Plus, through his community involvement with all the facets that he touched. He was part of almost every community endeavor.
“The Irish Gathering was a big thing,” he added. “He came out to help us many years ago when it first started. He was one of the pioneers that helped us through it.”
He said his passing is another huge loss of a very committed volunteer in the community.
“We’ve lost too many in a very short period of time, Danny, Phil Godon, Carl Lacombe. These are all key parts of the history of our community and they’re going too quick.
“It’s beyond sad,” he added.
Mayor Mayville shared an interesting conversation he had with Mr. Harrington shortly after his election win in October 2022.
“He was the second person that called me after the election and he says, I want you to know I didn’t vote for you.”
Mayor Mayville told him he appreciated his honesty, to which Mr. Harrington replied, “I want you to know if you work as hard as you did for your campaign, I’ll be more than happy.
“I think, for me, that’s what exemplifies what he was, a straight-up guy.”
Former mayor, Janice Tiedje, said she had been friends with Mr. Harrington for many years and following her marriage to Dr. Henry Tiedje they continued that friendship with him and his wife, Wendy.
“We were friends for a long time, even when Emerson, (Lepine) was alive. Henry and I were good friends of his as well and Danny was part of my campaign team during the last election.
“He really helped me and believed in me,” she added. “He was a strong, strong community person and the community is going to miss him.”
She described him as a remarkable man who put his family first, followed by his community.
“He would have done anything for Killaloe and area, he just loved the village,” she noted.
She said she had many meetings with him when she was in office over her 22 years in KHR, noting Mr. Harrington had many great ideas which they were able to act on.
“He was the chair for many years of the Irish Gathering and really believed in it. He had great ideas and he was the kind of guy who would ask people to volunteer, and they didn’t mind because it was him asking.
“Everyone had a hard time saying no to him because we knew that his heart was in the project,” she added.
Mrs. Tiedje shared how when she and the local doctor started dating, they were leaving church one Sunday morning and Mr. Harrington approached them and gave them both a big hug.
“He said ‘I’m so happy the two of you are together’. I remember his face, he was so happy, and throughout the years after, he always told us we were perfect for each other.”
She said Mr. Harrington’s passing is another tough loss for the community.
“Danny had the ability to get you excited about a project. And he’d listen . . . he didn’t say you had to do this or that, he sat back and listened. That’s a trait that’s hard to find.
“The community has lost a strong leader,” she continued.
A Fitting Farewell
Eileen Walsh worked on the Irish Gathering committee with Mr. Harrington for many years and said he will be greatly missed.
“Our small community that is big in heart has lost a valuable member,” she said. “Danny had a great concern for community businesses, recreation, politics, young people and seniors.
“He loved to research the Irish heritage in our area, and so, became very involved in the Irish Gathering,” she added. “It is there where we laughed at stories, jokes, and he reminisced of old times.”
Mrs. Walsh included this poem in her tribute to her late friend.
“May the Irish hills caress you,
May her lakes and rivers bless you,
May the luck of the Irish enfold you,
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.”
“God bless you, Danny.”
Mr. Harrington is survived by his wife, Wendy, and sons Devin (Cristina), Dylan (Amy) and Nolan (Glenna), grandchildren Ryder and Austin, Emmerson, Charlotte and Jack, one brother, David (Trudy), and in-laws Jim and Ann Lepine, Patrick and Judy Cybulskie and Linda (Wayne Lepine – deceased). He was predeceased by his parents, Jack and Vera (Coghlan).
Mr. Harrington’s funeral mass was held Monday at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, Killaloe, followed by a Celebration of Life at the Lions Hall.