Niagara Gazette

Columns

May 15, 2013

DELUCA: New Hospice unit named for special guy

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — To hear people tell it, Dave was pretty well liked by everybody. Stocky and thickly built, with muscular legs from riding his bike each day, he was dependable and caring. Kind of a funny guy, some said.

Winker, as his friends called him, loved to fish. His best friend Rick Dorato, a chef at the hospital, would drive him to a variety of favorite fishing spots, like the Wilson pier, where the two would try to catch hold of some walleye or bass, only to release them and try again.

“He would just talk, and I would listen,” Rick said. “I’d say, Dave, we can’t catch fish if you keep talking.”

The chef looked after his friend for 30 some years, and many of his family gatherings included Winker. When Dave’s oldest son was battling cancer, Winker brought five carefully carved swans to be raffled off at a fundraiser held for the family. “He was like an uncle to my kids,” Dorato told me. 

As he talked, I imagined how that must have impacted the four Dorato children, who watched their father and mother care for a man who was not like everybody else and yet quite capable of giving and receiving love. 

The parent’s thoughtfulness did not go unnoticed. When David Winker learned he was going to die, he said to his friend Rick, who was at his bedside,  “Thank you for taking such good care of me.”

For such a simple guy, Winker touched many, and dozens came to the dedication ceremony last week, when it was announced that the new hospice wing at Schoelkopf, would bear his name.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve written before that I am a Hospice volunteer and shoot legacy videos for patients who want to document their stories. But no one needs me to cheerlead over the announcement that Niagara Hospice and Niagara Falls Memorial will spend around $200,000 in upgrades for 14 new hospice rooms. That’s very good news for city residents who won’t have to travel all the way to the Hospice House in Lockport to see their friends and relatives under hospice care.  

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