A bus driver’s cap sitting atop it, Dave Woodard’s casket was slowly taken into the church, with his wife, Terry, following behind. She was silent, her eyes wide and her hands clutching loved ones on either side. Throngs of family followed, 24 rows in all, each mourner wearing Mr. Woodard’s favourite colour, green.
The bus driver’s funeral Wednesday was the final service for the six people killed two weeks ago in a collision between an Ottawa transit bus, which he was driving, and a Via Rail train. Ottawa’s OC Transpo bus drivers were among the mourners, many wearing black arm bands to mourn one of their own.
An investigation into the crash is ongoing, but there was little mention of it in Wednesday’s service.
“We may never really know what happened that day, or understand how such a superior human being, a remarkable husband, father, son, brother and friend had to leave us so unexpectedly,” friend Blair Bisson said, calling Mr. Woodard “a true role model for mankind. They just don’t come any better.”
The Sept. 18 crash killed Mr. Woodard and five passengers. It’s not clear why the bus hit the train, but the Transportation Safety Board has said the investigation is focusing on the bus and the driver, in search of what might have gone wrong.
Wednesday’s memorial, though, focused squarely on Mr. Woodard’s legacy as a family man who had a passion for his job. Mr. Woodard’s brother, Steve, urged mourners to seize moments they have with family.
“Please just take the time to enjoy what’s meaningful in life for you guys. Whether it be a thunderstorm, a campfire or Dave staring at the stars, wondering what’s up there,” he said, adding: “We know he left this earth too early, but the big guy upstairs must have needed a driver to shuttle everybody around. And he only takes the best.”
Mr. Woodard leaves behind three grown children – Martin, Marc and Rebecca – who took the stage together to pay tribute to him.
“Dear Dave, Dad, you were taken from us, from this world, way too soon. … it’s time for you to rest now, in heaven, and watch over us,” son Martin Leury said, reading a eulogy on behalf of his brother and himself. He then read a second eulogy on behalf of his sister, Rebecca Woodard, who turned away from the podium, holding a tissue to her face.
“Daddy, I want to start off by saying I love you so much,” Mr. Leury said. “You were an amazing man, father and excellent role model and still one I look up to. It wasn’t your time to go, but you’ll forever be with me. I’ll never forget you. I’ll always love you Dad.”