Family man, war veteran, community volunteer, musician. Born Sept. 18, 1924, in Toronto, died Nov. 30, 2011, in Kingston, Ont., of complications due to a drunk-driving accident, aged 87.
Syd Higham was as cheap as they get! He would savour a free jacket from Cogeco and a pen from the tourism desk. He rejoiced over a complimentary monthly planner from the Kingston Credit Union.
He was delighted by free donuts and coffee at his weekly meeting with veterans, and his fridge was filled was ketchup pouches and creamers that removed the need to purchase either product.
Syd knew where they served free coffee for seniors and was delighted to order two burgers with that coffee and take his wife, Elsie, out for dinner for under $5. The bigger the deal, the greater his smile.
Being raised in the Depression years, in a family of nine, Syd knew how to treasure the sweet and simple pleasures of life: Free Stuff!
At the age of 87, Syd never really felt old. When he was in his mid-80s, he and the members of his "happy gang" would volunteer to perform at local senior-citizen homes; he played the accordion and the piano. Paw would always return with an immense smile on his face.
"I like to play for the old folks," he said. "They really like our music."
Of course, he didn't necessarily see the "old folks" as his peers. In fact, when Syd did pass away, his great-grandson proclaimed, "…but he wasn't even old!"
Syd taught his grandchildren to water-ski; he took them roller-skating and for rides on his motorcycle.
He was a hard-working man who spent most of his working years on wheels; from being a transport driver in the Second World War to delivering bread by horse and wagon for Weston Bakery. He also sold cars, ran a service station and transported inmates for Collins Bay Penitentiary.
He retired early to care for his two granddaughters and became a driving instructor. In retirement, he filmed weekly broadcasts at the Cogeco television station, supported his local church and Kiwanis group, and was a longstanding board member of the Kingston Credit Union.
Syd was in the car with Elsie, his love and dance partner of 65 years, and two dear friends when they were hit by a drunk driver while on their way to an evening boat cruise.
Syd suffered for over a year before his body became too tired to fight. He was surrounded by loved ones when he took his last breath.
Syd woke up each morning feeling like the luckiest man in the world. His two daughters, Pat and Terry, were his pride and joy.
He didn't ask for much. A good joke, a beautiful song or a big bowl of spaghetti with a friend were all it would take to bring joy to his day.
Julie Cafley is Syd's granddaughter.