Wray Hart earned a living picking up empty bottles. On Saturday, he died after being hit by an allegedly impaired driver.
His friends say he was a caring, generous person who loved to chat with everyone he met.
The 63-year-old lived in Halifax’s south end where he collected the bottles. He was a familiar character in the neighbourhood for over two decades and could often be found sitting on one of the green benches, only a few metres from where he died. One of these benches now bears his name in black marker.
News of Hart’s death hit Eric Burke hard.
“I was upset; I bawled myself to sleep. I was angry; now I’m just irritated,” Burke, who had been friends with Hart for three years, said Sunday.
Burke, 40, lived in the same apartment building as Hart. He said Hart used to help when he needed it.
Burke has been out of work for six years and whenever he got depressed, he and Hart would “sit up late at night on the porch and Hart would say, ‘You can’t give up on stuff like that — you’re only 40 years old.’”
Despite not having much money, Hart was generous. On multiple occasions, he gave Burke bus money to get to a job interview and, Burke said, wouldn’t ask for it back.
Jade Speirs, another friend of Hart’s, said they used to sit in Victoria Park almost every day for four years and chat over a cup of tea. She said Wray was interested in how downtown Halifax was developing. He liked to see his community grow.
“You don’t realize how big of an impact they’ve had (on you) until they’re not there anymore,” Speirs said crying.
Another friend, Natasha Pyke, 31, echoed Spiers and Burke’s sentiments.
“He was always there for us,” she said.
Over the weekend, Pyke set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for Hart’s funeral costs. Pyke is also the one who wrote Hart’s name on the bench and post near the crash site.
A memorial page has also been set up for Hart on Facebook for people to share their memories of the man.