David John 'Sorry' Melle

(July 18, 1948 - September 11, 1999)

A brotherly memorial and tribute
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My brother David died in Vancouver General Hospital on September 11, 1999. He went peacefully just a few months after his cancer diagnosis. He died within walking distance of his Vancouver birthplace in St. Paul's Hospital. His adult life was centred in the Kitsilano / 4th Avenue neighbourhood of Vancouver. David enjoyed life and had a big grin. In some ways he was eternally innocent.
David was a sweet and troubled person. While he followed a style that others would not always approve of; he did follow his own personal standards and morals. David rarely took the easy route. His background included party-time with some great musicians, training as classical chef, deep knowledge of first-aid and alternative medicine, a love of gardening, active volunteerism and foreign travel.
His travels included an early visit to Morocco and several to India as recently as 1998.
In the early seventies he had a legitimate claim to being Vancouver's most famous hippie. Though he was known to many by the nickname Sorry; I think that he found little to be really sorry about. He did not worry about past wrongs and had lots of personal pride.
He became a mythical figure. During a 1970 trip to Ontario, I met people who had never travelled west of Toronto. Some told me legends about this mythical West Coast 'Sorry' character that they had heard stories about.
During the seventies David was a strong supporter of the annual Easter Be-In happenings in Stanley Park.
By 1970 he was the part owner and principle operator of Hari Krishna's Famous Last Chance Saloon -- a well known Fourth Avenue coffee house and hangout.
He later ran the Acme Two Step Dancing School and Emporium which was renowned for its huge variety of rolling papers and other products. It provided "Head-Spaced Fun". (David had a knack for naming things).
In 2005 an exhibit on Vancouver in the Seventies opened at the Vancouver Museum. It features a prominent photo of David.
Even as a child he had a rebellious streak. He would do anything for a dare -- whether that meant jumping off the roof for 25 cents or eating a spoonful of Tabasco sauce to impress his friends. David was often in the midst of both the neighbourhood fun and local troubles.

Here are a few older photos of David John 'Sorry' Melle.

David John Melle
David Sorry Melle David Sorry Melle
In another phase of David's life he was a paramedic in the US Army; he deserted in 1968. He travelled to Europe, Morocco and Mexico. He worked as a chef including a memorable stint at Resolute Bay on Baffin Island. For short periods he planted trees, did some industrial jobs and as a first aid attendant. For much longer periods David worked as a dedicated entrepreneur, connoisseur and salesman.
In later years he studied herbology and was an active volunteer. In 1998, David Melle was the Vancouver Aquarium volunteer of the year. He helped at their Marine Mammal Recovery Centre.
He was also a big supporter of music and environmental events such as the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. He was quite proud of his sales records for Greenpeace lottery ticket sales.
These are from the nineties.
David Melle Passport photo
David had great unfulfilled potential; also intelligence, personal charm, social talents, book learning and a good heart.
Unfortunately, he never reached his full potential. David remained stuck in the seventies. He refused to let go of the past.
I wish that his personal code had allowed more social awareness and responsibility. He was one of my two elder brothers. I admired the way that they have both stuck true to their very different paths.
These are two pictures of me and my two brothers, David and Robert.
They are probably from 1967 and 1989.
on Edgewood road
in Stanley Park
David is well remembered by his daughter Shiloe and his son Jesse. He left many friends. His surviving family includes mother, father, my sister, myself and my brother.
David attended Anglican and Unity churches in his youth. He later cultivated an interest in things Indian, Tibetan and Buddhist.
On September 16, 1999 we had a memorable send-off for David at the Vancouver Aquarium. More than 100 of David's friends and relatives gathered there. It was good to see the ways that his life had influenced so many people. I must thank Suzanne for her special efforts in bringing some order to both the occasion and to my family's collective lives.

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