R.I.P. Frank & Danse

Two of the Drive’s most colourful characters are now both lost to us.

Frank, on the right, and Danse, on the left, have been habitueès of the Drive for as long as I can recall, sometimes carving wood and sometimes just begging. They had several pitches but most of the time they had a spot outside Home Hardware at Graveley.

I found them a cheerful pair, always willing to chat. Danse could be a bit loud on the bus, but in a happy way; proudly announcing with his big grin that no-one had to bow to him as he passed.

A few years ago, they moved back to small-town Alberta, which they hated, and they soon returned to the friendlier streets of Grandview. Their support network included folks at Home Hardware, Tim Horton’s, and the Dime, and I suspect many others too.

Now, they are both gone. Frank died a few weeks ago and I heard this week that Danse had died in intensive care on 27 May. They will be missed.

I understand that their sister is coming up from San Diego for a celebration of their lives on 20 June in Grandview Park. I also hear that Home Hardware will be erecting a plaque in their memory on their wall.

14 Responses to R.I.P. Frank & Danse

  1. John Payzant says:

    seen and talked to danse many times but so many years outside takes a toll on the health

    • lcloarec says:

      I remember these two fondly from my time in the neighbourhood. I spent a lot of time up on the Drive with my chocolate lab Zara. Everytime Danse saw Zara he would yell out CHOCOLATE !!! or CHOCO!!! and sometimes they would share their food with Zara , for awhile they had milk bones for the dogs that frequented the Drive. Frank and I talked football, he liked the Seahawks, I would occasionally buy them lunch at the Dime. You could buy it at the bar and they would deliver it out to the guys who would be hanging by the chain link fence at Home Hardware when it was done. They were always so funny, they kind of had a Statler and Waldorf vibe always heckling everyone, ..loved their sense of humour. They will be missed.

  2. tdurrie says:

    I well remember Danse. Whenever he would see me on the Drive he’d call out “Professor!” He knew he could always count on a donation and a brief chat. I once had him carve a small hummingbird for which I paid him $20. I still have it and will continue to treasure it.

  3. Dorothy Barkley says:

    Jak, this is so sad. Do you know their ages and/or the cause of death? I agree that living outside would be hard on the body but they seemed so hardy and cheerful.

  4. Roy says:

    My name is roy I drive the number #20 victoria bus.
    I have been friends of these guys for a long time.
    I knew frank passed away. I was sad.
    It was ironic that finally his brother I believed had got housing and had a place to live.
    Sometimes I would tell them to stay on the bus for a bit keep warm and dry.
    But they would smile and say I am fine.
    They will be missed by myself and doug on the bus.
    Condolences to their family.

  5. jakking says:

    Thanks for your kind memories, Roy.

  6. I lived on Victoria St / Napier for a few years and remember a few chats with Frank. The month after I moved, I was kicking myself that I never purchased one of the many carvings he made as a memento for my years on the west coast. Thank you for sharing this sad news.

  7. Daniel Brown says:

    There is a fundraiser for their family here:

    https://ca.gofundme.com/f/help-frank-and-randy-aka-danse-williams-family

  8. Daniel Brown says:

    Also, this was read in the legislature last week.

    FRANK AND DANSE WILLIAMS

    Hon. M. Mark: I rise today to honour the memories of Frank Williams and Randy Williams, or Frank and Danse, as most of us in Commercial Drive knew them. The brothers were renowned on the Drive for their beautiful carvings and their generous spirit. Many of us benefited from a humorous anecdote, a kind word or helpful advice from Frank and Danse over the years.

    Sadly, in a short two months, both men lost their lives. They will be very much missed.

    Their path to our community on Commercial Drive wasn’t an easy one. It began in Ahousat. They are Nuu-chah-nulth. As children, they were taken away to residential school and, after that, passed through various foster homes. Entering adulthood, they and their sisters and brothers had little of the opportunity many of us in this chamber would have taken for granted. Throughout their lives, Frank and Danse endured what many in this chamber will never know.

    In spite of that, they loved and were loved, had an eagerness to connect with people and, as I’ve already said, a generosity second to none. To Merrilee, Justin, Frankie, Dylan, Ashley and extended family, we are together in your grief.

    Their death certificates don’t say it, but these two remarkable men died victims of systemic anti-Indigenous racism. Recently this House has taken its first steps in accounting for the profound harms that racism inflicted on Frank and Danse and the thousands more who suffered early, heartbreaking deaths and those thousands who live amongst us in our communities.

    The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act was only the starting point. I urge all members to every day remind themselves that there is much more to our journey, to every day ask themselves: what more can we do to realize the promise that we’ve made

  9. John Payzant says:

    what time on Sun June 20?

  10. John Payzant says:

    what time on June 20 Sun

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