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A lonely North Sydney man whose life changed through compassion shown by people from as far away as Texas has died.
Clyde Harvey, 67, died Sept. 4 at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Palliative Care unit in Sydney, after battling lung cancer the past several years.
His friend Joey MacDougall, 39, of North Sydney, said he will miss Harvey, who he grew up beside in Ingonish and would visit daily after moving to North Sydney.
MacDougall said Harvey was good to him growing up, and the two men enjoyed "tormenting" each other.
“We played cards,” he said. “Cards were his thing. He taught me the games of crib, 45s and poker. He gave me a lot of lessons, as he would say.”
Harvey was one of two seniors the Cape Breton Post found in December 2018 as part of a search for seniors alone at Christmas who hoped to see their lives changed over the holidays.
Harvey had reminisced about spending Christmas Day alone the last 16 years, passing the time by listening to the radio and looking out a window. For him, Christmas 2017 was even lonelier, as battling lung cancer, he was hospitalized over the holiday and didn’t have any visitors.
A lobster fisherman, Harvey was employed at Victoria Co-op Fisheries after retirement. After his parents died he lived alone in the old homestead for three or four years. However, he found it too hard living on his small pension and maintaining a house. Since 2008 he has lived in a regional housing apartment in North Sydney.
After the story about Harvey’s lonely life was published in the Cape Breton Post in December 2018, Harvey received Christmas cards from as far as away as Texas. Many people stepped up, including Alaina MacKenzie of the North Sydney Salvation Army and a woman named Rose Jessome. Madison’s Angels founder Renee Smith not only organized a huge public Christmas Eve party for Harvey but also collected donations and got him a television, VCR, and telephone — none of which he had prior — and paid for cable and his phone for a year.
The Memorial High School basketball team and coaches raised funds, treated him to a grocery shopping expedition and presented him with a jersey. They even stopped to pick him up for their high school basketball games.
After mentioning his idol in the Post story — the late John Allan Cameron— Cameron’s wife LaLa, of Ontario, sent him CDs, DVDs and autographed photos. The doctors and nurses at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre even sent him a bag of gifts.
MacDougall said Harvey enjoyed this gathering of people around him.
“It gave him a better outlook,” he said. “He was way more positive at Christmastime.”
Kenny Best of Ingonish, a distant cousin, said Harvey was adopted and his parents are deceased. After Harvey moved to North Sydney their family lost touch with him. Best said his mother kept tabs on Harvey the best she could.
“My mom kept in touch with him over the phone,” he said. “She’s older, too, so didn’t get up to see him too often.”
However, Harvey’s relatives were there when needed. Two years ago when Harvey, battling lung cancer, had to go to hospital in Halifax for treatment, Best drove him up.
Last spring Harvey had surgery on his bowel and his cancer treatments had to be postponed for a bit. When he was leaving the hospital Best’s mother checked to see if he needed someone to go home with him.
“He had the nurses all lined up for when he went home and homecare to go in,” Best said. “He was pretty independent that way.”
After the original Cape Breton Post story about Harvey appeared, there were numerous followup stories.
“He was some proud of those stories,” Best said. “He used to call my mom up and say, ‘I made the paper again.'"
- Clyde Harvey, 67, of North Sydney, died Sept. 4 at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
- Originally of Ingonish, adopted by the late Susie and Albert Harvey.
- Never married.
- A retired life-long lobster fisherman, was employed at Victoria Co-op Fisheries after retirement.
- A past member of the Royal Canadian Legion branch 105 in Ingonish and a member of the Ingonish Volunteer Fire Department for more than 20 years.
A month before his death, Best said his mother set Harvey up with the Lifeline medical alert system. He had a couple of falls where he had to be taken to the hospital.
“At the end he went pretty quick. The cancer was all through him and there wasn’t any more they could do.”
The day Harvey died, Best was there as well as other relatives including some from Ingonish. MacDougall and other friends were by Harvey’s side as well.
“I wouldn’t want to die alone so I spent the whole day with him,” MacDougall said. Knowing the end was near, he contacted people Harvey was close to.
“My girlfriend was with me, too. She got to know Clyde pretty good over the past couple of years.”
There was a gathering at the hospital until at 10 p.m. that night. Harvey died at 1 a.m.
A compassionate obituary written by Harvey’s cousins said that he was known for his love of visiting people, playing cards and never passing up a cup of tea and snack. Harvey was also noted for having some relatives he was close to in Margaree and relatives in other areas including Frenchvale and Balls Creek.
Visitation for Harvey will be held at J.M. Jobes Funeral home, Sydney Mines, Friday, Sept. 13, from 2-4 p.m. A celebration of life will be held at St. John’s Anglican church in Ingonish on Saturday at 11 a.m.