When Dominic Parker felt like going fishing or just zipping out in his Zodiac to see Toronto from the water, friends say they could find no excuse to stay onshore.
“I’d say, ‘You know what, I don’t know, it’s a little windy and a little cloudy – I might as well just cut the grass,” says Roger Cecchetto, one of several Beach Triangle neighbours who counts Parker as a good friend.
But Cecchetto says Parker always had a ready answer for any excuse that sounded so responsible and so un-fun: “Lord hates a coward.”
Parker was murdered Sept. 14 in what police say was a random stabbing. He had stopped to have tea in café at Danforth and Coxwell Avenue before picking up his bike and riding home.
On what would have been his 46th birthday, Sept. 21, the married father of two was celebrated in the Beach with a tribute that brought more than 800 people through the doors of the Balmy Beach Club.
Some were old neighbours, who came to the Beach from new homes in Scarborough and Montreal. One was a Malvern Collegiate classmate who remembers Parker as the guy who stood up to the bullies that had picked on him some 30 years ago.
Others were ex-bicycle couriers who rode in Toronto with Parker 10 or 12 years back, but who came all the way from California and Florida to pay their respects. Before the tribute got started, it was Parker’s many friends in film and TV production who set everything up.
But standing out among Parker’s many friends were the dozens of Markham firefighters who wore red T-shirts marked with his firefighting number, 55, and Parker’s other favourite phrase, “Living the Dream.”
Cecchetto remembers the night when Parker, then 39, told his friends he was going to be a firefighter. He had already tried and failed to get in years before.
“He just sort of sprung it on us and said, ‘You know, I’m going to be a fireman,’” Cecchetto said. “And we all laughed and said, ‘Yeah sure.’”
But even as his friends teased him, Parker was training. He flew to BC and took specialized firefighting courses to give himself a leg up.
One year later, he was a rookie in the Markham fire department.
And this year, on the last shift before his death, Parker’s team saved the life of a 22-year-old man trapped in a basement by a raging house fire.
“He’s a great example of how you have no excuse because every day might be your last,” said Jay Michaels, another long-time friend and neighbour.
“You just never know. You should just get out there and live it.”