Husband, father, son, brother, lawyer, friend, paella master, bon vivant. Born March 18, 1964, in Montreal. Died Sept. 3, 2011, in Montreal of soft tissue sarcoma, aged 47.
Dan Artola was born and raised in Montreal. His parents, Carmen and Miguel, were of Spanish descent, and his Spanish heritage was always an important influence in his life.
Dan and his brother, Carlos, graduated from Lower Canada College. After high school, Dan attended Marianopolis College, where he met Virginia Myles. They started dating at 17, and were married in 1990. She was the love of his life and his best friend. They were renowned for their parties, Dan’s raucous laugh and his eclectic taste in cheese – “the uglier, the better” was his motto.
After studying civil engineering, Dan decided that law was his true calling. He completed his law degree at the University of Ottawa and went on to specialize in intellectual property and become a patent agent. He worked for a number of law firms in Montreal, and in 2005 became a partner at Ogilvy Renault (Norton Rose OR).
Dan loved his career, but family always came first. If Virginia called while he was in a meeting, Dan would say, “It’s the Court of Appeal; I’ve got to take this.”
Dan and Virginia had two boys, Ryan, 15, and Eric, 13. A loving and involved father, Dan changed his sons’ diapers, coached them at soccer and shared with them his love of learning and sports, his optimism and sense of self. In the obituary he wrote before he died, Dan called Ryan and Eric “his proudest accomplishments.”
In December, 2009, Dan’s leg started feeling numb. An MRI revealed a tumour in his lower abdomen, a rare type of cancer. He underwent surgery on June 1, 2010, the day before his and Virginia’s 20th wedding anniversary. The tumour was massive, the size of a rugby ball. It was successfully removed but Dan lost a kidney and some use of his right leg. He kept his calm and his sense of humour, proudly displaying the rugby ball one of his old friends brought him as a souvenir.
In October, there were metastases in Dan’s lungs. By January, the tumour in his abdomen was back and growing at an alarming rate; surgery wasn’t an option. He underwent chemotherapy, but nothing slowed the growth.
In July, he stopped treatment and focused on enjoying the time he had left. He got leave from the hospital to see his favourite band, U2, live for the first time. He spent his last precious weeks with those closest to him, sharing fond memories, cocktails and, of course, cheese. Virginia was his constant companion.
At Dan’s memorial service, Eric read a note he had written the night before his father died: “Papa, I want you to know that you are the best role model and my aspiration, among many others, is to become as wonderful a man and father as you. Please let any guilt leave you and let you only be left with all the incredible and lovely memories you’ve shared over nearly five decades. I love you with all my heart, and farewell.”
By Stephen Dinsmore, Dan’s brother-in-law, Virginia Myles, Dan’s wife, and Tom Myles, Dan’s father-in-law.