Yesterday was the memorial service for our dear friend, Dave Panckhurst, who passed away December 3rd. I shared the following words with the large group of people gathered to share their respects for this wonderful, inspiring man:

Is nobility determined by station? Is it endorsed by hereditary means, by the blood of birth? Is it displayed with crown and jewels? Or is nobility established in character, in a willingness to forsake the outer accoutrements of status and station in order to work for and to live for a cause greater than the wants of an individual?

I believe the man we are here to honour today lived a noble life. He wanted for nothing. He and Alison were married for over 53 years. He was and is surrounded by loving family and friends. He lived in an unpretentious but comfortable home in a beautiful part of the world. In the course of his life he walked in some of the most magical and pristine wilderness areas of this magnificent land.

I only knew Dave Panckhurst in the golden years of his life. But I consider it a blessing and a privilege to have come to know this humble, noble man.

We are gathered together to honour this great and gentle man. I encourage you not to be saddened by Dave’s death. Do not yearn for his physical presence. Be glad that you have walked in the shadow of his greatness. Know that his spiritual presence is never further than your next conscious memory of him.

Dave Panckhurst at Ceili. He’s on my right.
I wish to sincerely thank each and every one of you for being here today. And I know Alison and her family are deeply grateful as well. Some of you have travelled far, others not. But we have all gathered together to celebrate a life well-lived; a life that lives on in each us as we sometimes stumble on our individual journeys. And we share this celebration with a number of key people in Dave’s life who,for a number of reasons, cannot be physically here with us now. Many have sent their best wishes and condolences to Alison and family. If time permits we may share some of those words with you later.

I spoke before of nobility. Dave Panckhurst’s life was noble because he lived for causes greater than himself. He was occasionally saddened by the state of world affairs. Why? Because Dave knew that humanity can live with higher ideals than it currently is. He knew this because he personally lived those higher ideals. He knew this because, despite discouragement, he never stopped doing something to make this world a better place—by planting trees, with submissions to councils and letters to prime ministers and presidents, with a helping hand, a kind word, in so many ways we will hear more of today. You’ll see a quote in your programme from Mahatma Gandhi. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Dave was the change he wished to see in the world.

As I said before, I only knew Dave Panckhurst in the golden years of his life. He was my neighbour and my friend, he was my mentor. He was like a father to this man who lost his own father some years before. We shared from each other’s gardens. I walked with Dave, planted trees with Dave, I danced with Dave and prayed with Dave.

I sincerely look forward to the next while as those of you who knew Dave in his earlier years flesh out the life of the silver-haired man I have come to know and to love. May we all be touched and gladdened by the stories shared today. May our hearts open as we celebrate and honour one who walked amongst us, acutely observing, patiently listening, deeply thinking and quietly serving his family, this planet and his fellow man.


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See


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