ALONE BUT NOT UNNOTICED
Lloyd Maxwell’s noon-hour funeral service on Wednesday at Beechwood Cemetery took less than seven minutes, his flag-draped coffin lowered into the ground shortly after Rev. Jeffrey King sprinkled holy water and poured sand on the casket in the shape of a cross.“May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace,” King said. “Amen.”In the distance, under steel-grey skies, a bugle played The Last Post. It would be nice to think it was playing for Maxwell, who served from 1969 to 1971 as a reservist with the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, but that was not the case. Those particular notes and their timing were a coincidence, marking someone else’s passing, in another section of the cemetery.Lloyd Theodore Maxwell died of natural causes on July 22, homeless but for those he knew in his final handful of years in residence at the Salvation Army Booth Centre shelter in the ByWard Market. He was 65.Of the 10 people, officials and reporter excluded, who attended his funeral, eight were volunteers with VETS Canada, a national non-profit organization that aims to assist Canadian veterans who are in crisis, homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. The other two were children of a VETS volunteer.“He’s one of ours,” said Richard MacCallum, a VETS Canada volunteer, “and it’s standard procedure in the Canadian Forces: We never leave a man alone.“I know the man died alone. Myself, I prefer to be there in his last moments to pray with him, but this is a good way for us to share and pray for him.”We all die alone. But Maxwell’s death did not go unnoticed, not byHe was just a happy, softspoken, positive man who didn’t need much in life. He said he had it all at one time ...those at the Booth Centre, where Maxwell held doors open for others and, when he spoke, always had a kind word.In fact, so much was he tied to the routine and the people at the Booth Centre, that when he was first approached by VETS Canada a year and a half ago about moving to a home where he would receive better round-the-clock care, he demurred, insisting he wanted to stay where he was.“His motto was ‘One day at a time,’ ” said VETS volunteer and Maxwell’s lead worker Sonia Carrier. “He was a very compassionate man. Every time I saw him he would ask about my parents and my brother.“He was just a happy, softspoken, positive man who didn’t need much in life,” she added. “He said he had it all at one time, and it didn’t make him happier. I just lost my dad in March, and every time I looked at Lloyd, I thought, that could have been my dad in that situation.”According to Jeremy Brown, a Salvation Army resident who had known him for almost four years, Maxwell was “a very kind man who would do whatever he could for you.“He was an old soul with a good sense of humour, and I don’t think you could find anyone here with anything bad to say about him. That’s the type of guy he was. He was a fixture around here, in a positive way.”Little is known about Maxwell. He was born in North Sydney, N.S., in October 1952. His father’s given name was John. Following his time in the military, he worked with Ontario Hydro. He had a brother who lives, or lived, somewhere on the East Coast. He never married or had children. His next of kin was listed as the Last Post Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that every veteran receives a dignified funeral, burial and military headstone, regardless of their finances. The organization paid for Maxwell’s ceremony and burial.Maxwell was an early riser, up by 4:30 a.m. most days and out the door to pick up a McDonald’s coffee, a blueberry muffin and the Ottawa Sun — he liked to keep up on current events — which he would take with him back to the Booth Centre cafeteria for breakfast.In the afternoons, he might be found at a nearby Tim Hortons, not for the coffee so much as for the company of his friends. He liked sports, particularly football and Ottawa Senators hockey, and karaoke. He also boxed in his youth, and claimed to have competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, an autobiographical detail not supported by research.He also said he was distantly related to the Maxwell House coffee manufacturer, also unlikely given that the company was not named for a founder.But he did have the hands of a boxer, and often said that if there were any problems with people at the centre, he would stand up and fight.“He always had people’s backs,” said one woman at the centre who asked not to be named.“I found that admirable because it’s such a fight-or-flight environment here, yet he had that care for other people. Lloyd was one of the sweetest guys kicking around here.”“A lot of people here were upset when they found out he’d passed away,” added Brown.“I miss the guy already.”
Rev. Jeffrey King presides over the funeral for Lloyd Maxwell, below, a homeless veteran who lived at the Salvation Army. Thanks to Vets Canada, about a dozen people attended the service on Wednesday.
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