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ATLANTIC LIVES: New Brunswick's David Chester Atkinson brought out the best in all living creatures

David "Dave" Chester Atkinson at a Toronto Blue Jay's game.
David "Dave" Chester Atkinson at a Toronto Blue Jays' game.- Contributed

A Middleton, N.S., resident had a larger than life personality.

David “Dave” Chester Atkinson wasn't a tall man in stature, according to his friend Anna Clark. Still, he showered so much compassion on all living creatures that he appeared immense in the Companion Animal Protection Shelter (CAPS) world.

"No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a little animal," said Clark while referencing an inspiring quote to summarize Atkinson, who passed away on Feb. 7 at age 72.

"He was not a huge man, measuring around five-foot-six, but you would think he was bigger because he gave so much of himself. No matter what job we asked of him, as a volunteer, he went above and beyond. At the start of work, he would greet us with, 'hello! Good morning' while sounding just like Santa Claus."

"There was not a kinder, more gentlemanly, man."

Atkinson moved from Saint John to Middleton to be closer to his family, where he took to faithfully volunteering at the CAPS animal shelter for 10 years and serving on its board of directors.

"He started as a foster parent, looking after a little cat in his home until the feline was ready to be adopted. Then he took another kitty. However, Dave fell in love with this cat named Nellie. He chose to adopt Nellie, and this put an end to his home fostering because he had no more room."

Dave Atkinson faithfully volunteered at the CAPS animal shelter for 10 years, looking after cats. - Contributed
Dave Atkinson faithfully volunteered at the CAPS animal shelter for 10 years, looking after cats. - Contributed

Atkinson continued to volunteer twice a week at the farm, the largest CAPS foster home. Those that worked with him there said Atkinson always gave and never asked for a thing in return.

He was recognized with several awards for his commitment and devotion to the CAPS animal shelter.

"Dave loved all the animals. He was so gentle with them, picking them up as if they were made from fine china. I have tears in my eyes as I remember all the things he did. There was not a kinder, more gentlemanly, man. Never a lost word, well-dressed always, coming in a nice sports shirt to work."

As a bachelor, Atkinson celebrated holidays such as Christmas with Clark and her husband on the farm.

"If there were a winter storm, he would bring his suitcase and stay the night and then be with us in the morning to do chores for the animals. He was one in a million. Dave was not a young man when he came to us to volunteer at CAPS animal shelter but having him was a Godsend."

Atkinson transported animals to and from the vet, ran errands, volunteered at all fundraising events, and whatever CAPS needed, he was there to serve.

Peter Atwood described his brother Atkinson as having an outgoing, friendly personality.

"He was young at heart, no matter his age. Dave loved travelling, golf, and caring for animals. He always had cats. The cremated ashes of his previous cat were kept and buried with him," said Atwood, who acknowledged his brother kept busy right to the end.

"Dave loved Nellie, his cat, and spoiled her. At times, I would tease him and say, 'You're spending more money on groceries for the cat than yourself' because he wanted the animals to have the best life. To the point, he would make sacrifices for himself for his cats."

Volunteers at the CAPS animal shelter said they are "richer for knowing" Atkinson.

"We miss him so much you cannot imagine, but we were so lucky he came into our world," Clark said.


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