Mention the name Todd Pyper in Grimsby and it’s likely many people will have a story to share. Outgoing, friendly and giving, Todd’s energy touched the entire community and community in turn was very important to Todd. He was the chairperson for the Happening at the Forty for many years as well as a frequent volunteer at Twenty Valley golf club where he helped organize the annual member/guest tournament, assisted with running the weekly Men’s League and sat on the Board of Directors. Through his two passions, music and golf, Todd became well known in the Grimsby area for his smile, positive attitude and genuine love of meeting people.
Todd came from a musical family; his father and uncles were all involved in music and extended Pyper family gatherings always included singing. After teaching himself guitar, Todd began to play in various bands and turned his musical hobby into a lifelong passion. Over the years, Todd continued to write, record and perform, loving the opportunity to be creative, until finally he committed to it full time and set up a recording studio in his home. He had found his true calling and gift. He loved collaborating and helping others in the studio and the atmosphere he created was welcoming, comfortable and encouraging. Todd also enjoyed sharing his love of music with young and old and many novice musicians were encouraged by him.
When Todd became ill, his connection with hospice palliative care began. Although his wife Amanda had a business association with McNally House Hospice since its inception, this was unknown territory for both of them. For a person who loved life and community as much as Todd, making the decision to become a resident at McNally House was difficult. Eventually, supported by the Niagara West Palliative Care Team, Todd moved into the hospice when being at home simply became too difficult.
Being surrounded by a caring, professional staff and warm, encouraging volunteers, Todd immediately became comfortable at the house. He tearfully confided to Amanda that deciding to go there was the best decision he ever made. He had peace of mind knowing that he would be well taken care of, knowing that it meant Amanda didn’t have to worry about looking after him. This alleviated the stress for both of them. Much to Amanda’s surprise on his first night at McNally House, Todd was feeling so comfortable, safe and at peace, he made her keep a promise to go home at 9 pm to get a good night’s sleep. Although she kept that promise for a few nights Amanda eventually stayed by his side, supported by the hospice team, until he passed away.
With McNally House providing a “home away from home” atmosphere, visitors were always welcome and it wasn’t long before they started arriving to see Todd. Within a week Amanda estimated that Todd had almost sixty different visitors including family and friends. With music being a centre of Todd’s life it was not surprising that more than a few visitors brought instruments to play including his brother Glenn with his ukulele. One of those visitors was Todd’s longtime musician friend John. John was so impressed with the hospice and the care his friend was receiving that he organized a concert to raise funds for McNally House as a way to give back. Although the original goal was to record the event so that Todd could watch it later, sadly Todd passed a few days before it was held. At Todd’s request, George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” was played as family and staff said their final goodbyes.
In July of this year, the Happening at the Forty Committee dedicated a bench in Todd’s honour at Coronation Park. It was a night filled with music by local musicians that Todd called friends and where organizers accepted donations to McNally House in his honour. The plaque on the bench holds Todd’s lyrics “It’s a gathering place”; a fitting tribute for a man who loved music, people and life.