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David Giniewicz Assaly was "the angel of the mountain,". He died of heart failure Thursday, Dec. 20. See the many notes of tribute below.
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UPDATE—Frazier Park, CA (Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 at 6 p.m.)—Alice Assaly has sent this note to the community: "We will be having a celebration of Dave’s Life on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Frazier Mountain High School. We will be serving refreshments. We would also like to call on the community to help with this, perhaps a potluck. Further details will follow. Thank you for all your kind support.
Dave da Handyman succumbs to apparent heart attack
By Patric Hedlund, with additional reporting by Gary Meyer
The Frazier Park man who liked to introduce himself as "Dave da Handyman" was known for his big heart. Some said he was the guardian angel of the Mountain Communities. At about 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20 David Giniewicz Assaly’s heart stopped while he was still at work at the Name Your Price Thrift Store.
Paramedics were dispatched shortly after 5 p.m. Firefighters rushed to his side within minutes, "but he was already gone," witnesses said. His wife Alice Assaly was present as firefighters attempted to revive him.
Dave, 56, founded the "Name Your Price" thrift store about six years ago. He made clothes, appliances, toys and recycled household goods available for what people felt they could afford. The effort helped launch and sustain the Mountain Communities Boys & Girls Club, which received the proceeds from the store. That arrangement lasted until summer 2012.
This fall the Name Your Price Thrift Store moved from Lebec to a new facility on Alhambra Trail in Frazier Park, where Dave hardly missed a beat, reaching out with warm coats, shoes and household goods to families who lost their homes to fires; held a benefit to help the Rotary bring Thanksgiving dinner to 60 people; donated art supplies to the Frazier Mountain High School Art Club; held a benefit for the In the Wings Performance Team; and helped hundreds more—anyone he knew to be in need—and that is just within the last two and a half months.
"I am sort of crazy. I don’t focus on money. A successful store is successful not by how much money it makes, but by how many people it helps," he said, laughingly calling it his "phenomenal frankenstore."
He reflected on growing up with a single mom, "I had no idea how poor we were," he recalled, remembering her knack for refurbishing recycled items. "There are so many assets thrown out, there is no reason not to recycle them…selling junk is something I am very good at."
Dave and Alice were the creators of the Annual Frazier Mountain Park Easter Egg Hunt. They worked months to prepare for a 3-minute stampede of toddlers with baskets, that always ended with a community picnic party in the park.
“Dave was a wonderful man who not only helped the community but inspired us all to be just a little nicer to our neighbors,” wrote Sara Woerter. “He treated everyone of the town with only respect-no matter their financial status. My family and I mourn the loss of a wonderful soul and appreciate all that he has done.”
Tributes to Dave da Handyman began pouring in just hours after his passing. Anyone who wishes to send a note with their thoughts and memories of this unique man can address it to Editor@MountainEnterprise.com with Subject: DAVE. Your note will appear here, below (scroll down to see the community outpouring of memories and affection for Dave da Handyman).
The family’s plan for a memorial service will be announced as soon as it is available.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012 at 11:45 a.m.)— Dave Giniewicz Assaly’s dear friend and wife, Alice, has just sent a note to the community.
From Alice Assaly: "I am constantly in awe at what an amazing community I live in. I want to thank everyone for all the support I have gotten in this difficult time. I’ve been getting phone calls, flowers, food and hugs, all which have helped me deal with my loss. Dave was my best friend through good times and bad, and now he is with his Mom, Grandmother, and the Lord, telling his bad jokes, and passing along his ‘Daveisms.’ We will all miss him! Thanks and Happy Holidays to all!"
Alice added another note. “Donations can be made to the Mountain Communities Boy’s & Girl’s Club in David’s memory in lieu of flowers I think this would make David happy. Thank You, Alice"
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.)—The outpouring of stories and memories for Dave da Handyman in the first day and a half since his passing has been powerful and moving. Scroll down to see the notes from his many friends below. More will be added as they come in.
Anyone who wishes to send a note with their thoughts and memories of this unique man can address it to Editor@MountainEnterprise.com with Subject: DAVE. Your note will appear here.
He inspired us all to be just a little nicer to our neighbors.
• From Sara Woerter, for the Woerters, Frazier Park: I would like to say that Dave was a wonderful man who not only helped the community but inspired us all to be just a little nicer to our neighbor. He went out of his way everyday and treated everyone of the town with only respect-no matter their financial status. My family and I mourn the loss of a wonderful soul and appreciate all that he has done.
• From Sylvia Ianucci, Frazier Park: Our thoughts and prayers go to Alice, and the whole community touched by Dave’s warm heart. He will be dearly missed.
• From Cat Whitelock, Frazier Park: The Mountain Communities lost a champion today. Dave was truly a special, selfless being – as close to an angel on Earth as we could hope to have. Always a friendly smile and helping hand, whether he knew you five minutes or five years. I always donated my old things to NYP Thrift Store to aid him in his noble cause. I shall continue to do so. I believe our community of good folks will draw together in this time of sorrow to continue good works in his name. I am so grateful to have known him for many years, though I wish it could have been more. He set a fine example for the rest of us to follow.
My heart goes out to my lovely friend Alice, and our community at large who share this loss. I hope his memory will continue to inspire us to help our fellow man, especially during the holiday season in such tough economic times.Please keep us updated on services and how we may help his family cope through the holidays.Rest in Peace, my beautifully souled friend – you deserve it after all your hard work.
• From Barbara Moritz, Frazier Park (of Ridge Route Antiques in Gorman): There are no adequate words to express how devastating this loss is to myself, my family and our community. Our hearts and love go to Alice.
• From Joan Kotnik, Lake of the Woods: “I speak all six dialects of crazy” Dave told me. Underneath the scruffy beard and the bad jokes was a generous, intelligent, hardworking man. He never said no to any donation. He didn’t want anyone to say “oh, he’s too picky” so he collected EVERYTHING. Somebody, somewhere at some time would need a chipped plate. In fact, he had several sets of mismatched chipped plates. Getting him to take anything to the dump was a struggle. He touched many lives. I’m grateful I was one of them.
• From Laura Raymond, Pinon Pines: Tonight, our little community lost one of the good guys. Dave truly had his heart in the right place. He was such a character! Whenever I would see him around town, he would always have something very sweet or silly to say that would put a big smile on my face! Thank you Dave for all you’ve done for the children and people in need of our community. You were a shining light that will be sorely missed.
• From Robert Curlee, 16 of Gorman and Neenach: Dave was a very respectful man. I worked with him ever since i was little and i use to live by him also. When i didn’t have a bed or anything in my house he gave us everything for just a "hug." it’s so sad to hear that he has passed on. But, he is being a handy man in heaven. He was a fantastic person. I always remembered his bad jokes and how he messed around with me all the time. He always had a job for me to do to keep me out of trouble. He treated everyone GREAT! If you ask anyone how he treated them it would always be good or postitve comments. But, he is in a better place and it was his time to go and we can’t change that. We all have to look at our good times and memories with him. My thoughts & prayers are with Dave’s wife and the family. May Dave rest in paradise.
• From Gerard Conroy, Neenach: Words cannot express. Rest in peace my friend. G
• From Pam Wheeler, Frazier Park: Our Mountain Communities have lost a great benefactor. This selfless, honorable person will leave a BIG hole in our community. I have donated appliance items for years to Dave, in fact he was to have picked up a stove today. You could see Dave anywhere and everywhere. Alice, my heart goes out to you at this sad time. God bless and keep you both.
• From Frank Williams, Bakersfield (formerly Frazier Park): Dave was the most giving man I ever met, he would help anyone, any place and any time. Like a lot of people in the Mountain Communities, we always knew that anything we gave to him would go to someone who needed it. He used tell me stories about dumpster diving in the Valencia area to trying to locate stuff to help needy people. I could probably write all day and never come close to covering everything he did for Mountain Communities. He will be missed by his family and by everyone up here. Heaven is a better place today.
• From Torie Gregg, Oakland (formerly of Frazier Park): I lived in the Frazier Park area for about 8 years. I first met Dave and Alice in 2002 and for a couple of years lived just a few houses away from them. Dave was always a friendly and warm hearted man with an amazing sense of humor and always found a way to make me smile and laugh. I worked at Ace Hardware and being a lover of all things tweety bird, Dave would very often bring me tweety bird items he would find.
I moved out of the area in 2009, but have gone to visit family there and I would always stop by Dave’s Name Your Price Thrift Store and get a warm hug from him. He was always busy and on the go, but he always had time for a hug and joke or two. The world has indeed lost one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. He and Alice have done so much for the community in Frazier Park and he will be truly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Alice and to everyone who knew Dave. He was a good friend and I will miss him dearly.
Thank you to the editor of The Mountain Enterprise for allowing us all to share our heartfelt messages and memories of our dear friend, Dave Assaly.
• From Robin Barrington, Lebec:
You were a real GEM
Treasures galore to share
Always at the right price
You taught us all
It’s not what you have
It’s what you give
You gave your all
In so many ways
Thanks from all of our hearts.
Love, Robin’s Nest
P.S. I will cherish our last meeting on Sunday, Dec. 16. You shared the joy it gave you to give out gifts to the children that sat on Santa’s lap on Saturday, Dec. 15. Your eyes lit up as you shared with me. My only regret is that I didn’t take you up on that offer to go dumpster diving with you! RIP Love Robin Barrington
• From Susan Chamness-Dunlap, Lockwood Valley: The Mountain Community lost a truly unique man, Dave was one of the nicest people here, he was not afraid of hard work. He truly understood the idea of paying it forward. I don’t think he ever kept anything for himself, but always finding where the need was a, then fulfilling it. I think everyone knows he was always ready to give. He will be missed. Alice as you put your life time love and best friend to rest, please know that my thoughts & prayers are with you.
• From Linda MacKay, Lebec: Here are some "Dave-isms" [can you hear his voice?]—"It’s all good;" "I don’t ask for permission, I ask for forgiveness;" "No good deed goes unpunished;" "[He's a] brother of another mother…."
• From Robert and Rocky Bryans, Frazier Park: As stated above, Dave was a gem. He worked hard for this community. All up in the mountains here had the pleasure to know him in one way or another. Just this past week my husband needed a pair of working boots and Dave was at the new facility behind Cavey’s Pizza in a Santa Claus Suit, passing out chocolate chip
cookies. Dave you will be dearly missed by us all.
Our hearts go out to you Alice, as Dave was the love of your life. Our deepest condolences go out to you! Also Carol and Darrell Powers send their heart-felt condolences as well, as Dave was a godsend for them after their house burned down and Dave offered much needed help for them. Our prayers and love be with you, Alice.
• From Nancy Kleider, Frazier Park: The mountain won’t be the same without Dave. He worked endlessly for others. Such a big heart. Once he brought me chicken soup when I was sick. He kept plastic containers of it in his freezer for such an occasion. I you needed something he would keep an eye out for it, for you, in his junk adventures. Shaun and I and the kids are really sad. We will miss him so much. Alice, we are so sorry.
• From Eli Pavoni, Menifee, CA: To All of Dave’s Friends on the Mountain and Surrounding Areas, I would like to introduce myself. I am a longtime friend of Dave’s, for over 35 years. For over (10) ten years, we were business partner in a meat company called "BBQ Kings." I can truly understand how you all must feel today. My heart is broken also. We really did lose "Santa Claus" because to many that is just who Dave was. By many young children looking at Dave, they saw his hair and beard and knew it had to be Santa. They would come up to him and ask if he was the real Santa. That touched Dave’s heart.
There is a famous quote that "he would give the shirt off his back" with Dave it was true, He would! I know there were times that one would think Dave was a homeless person, but in fact it was just Dave being Dave. Many didn’t know he was a very intelligent man with an IQ that was off the charts.
His eulogy is the way he lived his life, caring for others, giving to anyone in need and touching the hearts of all those who knew him. I will miss him so much and wish I could have spent one more moment with him, as all of you did as well. God knew him well and knew he didn’t want to leave with any big fanfares or good-byes but left quietly. Dave is with Our Lord and looking upon us and sending his love from above. Alice, Dave loved you so very much and you knew that. May God Be with You and with Dave now and forever!
Until We Meet Again, My Dear Friend, Love Eli
• From Alton (Butch) Newton, Palm Harbor, Florida: I’m honored to say Dave is my uncle.I looked up to Dave ever since I can remember, he played cat’s in the cradle on the guitar for me repeatedly. Dave and Alice took me in under their roof at the age of 11 when my mother couldn’t take care me.I was just a child without a father role model.My uncle taught me life lessons I use and will never forget.I have to thank him for helping me becoming a man .Dave has touched many lives and mine.
David also sketched many famous people. He started and ran many successful businesses. He has a brother Walter [Butch], and two sisters Linda, and Sofie. He will be missed but not forgotten. Dave was musician, artist, joker, mentor, devoted husband, great salesman, a friend, and one great uncle. May you rest in peace, Uncle David.
• From Tina Jaskiewicz, Cuddy Valley: I was in town today and heard the news of the sudden passing of Dave da Handyman. He was the kindest man I have ever met and helped so many people on our mountain, especially the kids. I read through all the letters and Cat said what he was to this mountain—AN ANGEL. I cried through all the wonderful things people wrote and when I got to Carol Lee’s letter, I felt better. She said something that gave me peace. God chose to take Dave from this mountain to help the 20 children that lost their life one week ago today. What a perfect person to help those kids right now. Knowing he is there helps with the hurt I feel for the 20 innocent children that lost their life. They have Dave da Handyman to help them now. His job here was done. He was needed in heaven. I know many hearts on the mountain are broken but we all have to go sometime and I know in my heart Dave is with the kids from Newtown right now.
Alice…your heart is the most broken right now and next time I am in your store I am going to give you a big hug. I bought a snowman from you and it was tucked aside for a few months so you could find the light. I bought it anyway and it is in my living room and as of today, his name is now Dave. Every time I look at him I will remember what a kind man your husband was and what a difference he made in so many lives !
• From Charlie Trungale, Pine Mountain: Dave was a very special guy. He always looked out for people. During the time we would spend together, he never expressed a judgemental attitude toward anyone. Rather he was accepting of all and looked to help people in all situations whether the person created their own problems or were victims. Many times people came to Dave because they were in need of something, he accepted that and he made them friends. He never asked what was in it for him. He could not go down the street without someone waving or stopping him to talk, then he would always turn to me and tell me something that was special about the person or their situation.
Dave was close to the Lord…even when his jokes did not sound that way, he was. Often he would tell me that he was ‘not religious but he was spiritual’ and that would lead to profound discussions where you knew that his heart was directed to the Lord by his deeds, actions and concerns. He lived by giving what he could without any expectations for himself. The things most people talk about believing we should do, Dave’s way was to live that way and "Just Do It”. His favorite expression, even during recent times of fatigue, pain and shortness of breath, was ‘It’s all good!’ Then Dave would stop, always look me in the eye and repeat ‘It’s all good!!!" and I knew he believed it…then he would get this big grin and laugh about life.
Send us your peace, my friend. May others help each other and share because of you.
• From Mike (The Chef) Mertes, Castaic: Dave was quite a unique person and I am proud to say that I have known him since 1998. If you ever needed something, just ask Dave and he would somehow get it for you! He knew my love for The Beatles, Chicago sports (being from Chicago) and also M&M’s. Many a times I came into my office and there would be little trinkets on my desk. You knew where they came from because Dave had been out on a run. My office became quite a showcase with all the little M&M guys, Michael Jordan un-opened Wheaties box and many, many other bits of memorabilia.
There would be times he’d call me and say "Hey Mikie, I left a little (sumthing-sumthing) for you at home. I’d come home at night and find things at my doorstep and you knew Dave was here! He was like Santa Claus because he’d always think of people and do his best to help them out and get what they needed.
Dave, Rest In Peace my friend. It was a pleasure to know you. God has a great handyman up there now!
• From Gretchen Noller, Bethlehem, Georgia (formerly of Lebec, and The Mountain Enterprise): I’m deeply saddened to learn of Dave’s passing. My heart goes out to you, Alice. You two seemed to be so much in love and had gone through so much together. I know those on the mountain will be of great comfort to you during this dark time in your life.
Who could ever forget the love and good feelings Dave generated wherever he went? I still have a vast collection of frogs he brought to me whenever he stumbled onto one during his forays into dumpsters and back parking lots of retail stores. When I lamented at one point that I was overwhelmed with so many, he simply replied, "Just pass them along to someone who would appreciate it. It’s all about recycling!"
How he could wheel and deal a merchant in order to obtain something another person or family needed! Hearing his stories was a treat in itself. There is nothing more I can add that hasn’t already been said about him and it’s all true. This earthly place has sacrificed a truly unique individual to a higher purpose.
• From Paul and Judy Cadman, Frazier Park: It is with shock and sadness that we heard the terrible news that one of the pillars of our mountain hamlet has passed away. Dave, thank you for your tireless, non-stop dedication to every worthy cause on the Hill, from animals to Rotary to the high school art and sports clubs and beyond.
Your once ramshackle truck recently upgraded to the more modern ramshackle truck packed full with all manner of objects and items meant to do good for others was a local institution rambling all over town. Your smile and good humor was there for all to see, and I never once saw you actually in a stationary position. You were always loading, drilling, fixing, sawing or unloading something.
I saw you more than once just give clothes and toys to people in the store who struggled to pay. You were never satisfied that local groups that had needs indeed had enough. You played cassette tapes of loops of Dean Martin and Elvis and other icons and sang out loud to them. You scowled at the snow, frowned at the rain, laughed at the heat and cold and through all that drove your truck and stocked your store. You were kind and funny and wise. You were a giver. You made me smile and your store made me happy. We will never forget you, and we thank you for making the Hill a better place.
•From Roxy Rose, Lebec: Thank you Dave for loving me for who I am. You taught me a lot about life and about giving And loving. I will love you always. I’ve posted a YouTube tribute to Dave ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3zUbh4mhvM&feature=youtube_gdata_player)
• From Brian Bennetts, Pine Mountain Club: I have known Dave for about 5 years. Not only did he run his store, and help those in need through it, he also helped many of the other charities in the Mountain Communities, whether it was a donation of his time helping to build something, or hauling away large items that no longer served a purpose in the stores, or offering advice to some of us giving ideas on how to further develop our own charities we worked with. He helped us all, directly and indirectly, in this community. He is a man who will be sorely missed for years to come. My condolences to Alice, his family and friends. Prayers and thoughts go out to all of you as you further his cause in his absence.
• From Jeff Yule, New Hampshire: I’ve known Dave for 33 years. Before i met Dave i had already known of him as the number one sales person around Los Angeles. Initially i met Dave in California and admired his talents, but didn’t have the chance to work with him. I started a meat company with another salesman and ended up taking the company to New England. Fate brought Dave and I together in Lowell, Massachusetts. He and I began working together. I quickly learned what an exceptional, giving and kindhearted person he was. He also quickly proved to be extremely skilled at his job.
I will never forget hearing the story of when Dave was in California and wanted to prove people wrong, showing that he could make just as much selling meat on Thanksgiving as any other day of the year. Dave went out and sold 50 cases of steak that Thanksgiving.
As I grew to know and love Dave over the years, he not only taught me how to be good at my job, but how to be a good person. Dave moved back to California and he and I stayed in touch over the years. I was always amazed to hear about the incredibly kind things Dave was committing his life to. He will be greatly missed
• From Bobby Caputo, Valencia, CA: Dave was like an old familiar song that you would hum and everyone would join in and sing. Dave was “Da Handy Man” yes. But Dave was also “The Captain” to those who knew him most their lives. ‘The Captain inspired things in a person that they thought they only had while looking in the mirror, when they thought no one else was looking. He gave them courage to step out of the shadows and to be that person in the mirror. Not only to do the right things, but to ‘know’ how to do the right things.
Dave “The Captain” found me 30 years ago back in Springfield, Massachusetts. when I was just 17 years old. He took the time to mentor me most of my adult life. My name is Bobby Caputo, I now reside in Valencia, CA with my wife Nikki and I will never forget the Captain, Da handy Man, the true friend, and all the stories I have to look back on, which will bring so many, “yeah that was crazy!” smiles to my face. I will miss you dearly… Old Friend.
• From Ginger Martin, Austin, Texas: I never knew Dave’s last name until I read this article, but I knew Dave! I met Dave two weeks after moving to the Mountain Community. He was just what I needed at the hardest time of my life. He let me use his own personal vehicle so that I could take a job in LA, when I didn’t have transportation of my own. He would check in on my kids daily to make sure they were ok. When I would stress out with worry, he would ask, "Are the kids ok?" then answer his own question with, "Then it’s all good!"
Dave never judged anyone, "we’re all on our own journey" he would say.
Rest In Peace is a nice sentiment that we all wish for Dave. I just can’t imagine it. I imagine Dave is up in heaven organizing and sorting, and asking God.: "What do you need big guy?" Dave viewed everyone on the mountain as his family and his responsibility to make sure that for everyone…it was all good.
• From Sally Erikson, Frazier Park: My story is pretty much like all the others. When I opened the Shelter on the Hill Thrift store back in 2003, we really didn’t start with much. Dave always came by to see if we could use something he had found that perhaps we could use. We were able to use some of what he brought, and he was always thinking of what we could use. Whenever there was a customer in our store that was looking for something we didn’t have, we always told them
to try "Name Your Price" and he in turn sent customers our way.
Sometimes when I have been doing errands, I would hear a horn honking, but never paid much attention to that, until someone yelling out the window of this old truck called, "Hey, Sally!" It was always Dave. RIP, Dave!
• From Kay Hehir, Frazier Park: Dave was sincerely concerned for others, and compassionate. He could sense if someone was having a bad day… and then he acted on his feeling. I recall one day as I was about to get in my car, I heard a honk and saw Dave in his truck stopped and looking my way. I waved and said "Hi Dave" and he gestured with his hand to come to the truck. I walked over to the truck and he said "How are you doing?" I said something like "I’m OK" and he looked into my eyes and said "Really? Are you sure?"
Then I admitted things were not as good as I would like. During our conversation he said something was telling him he needed to stop and check on me. He was right, and I felt much better after we talked and prayed together. Clearly Dave made a positive difference in countless lives, which is witnessed only in part by the many comments and remembrances written here. So much more is left unsaid and unwritten of this man’s good deeds, and also those of his partner Alice.
I have observed both, Dave and Alice, be confronted with many obstacles and challenges in their efforts to establish the "Name Your Price Store" which has helped so many in need. I’m sure it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears over the years. I was amazed at how they got the strength and determination to tear it down, move it and rebuild it over and over again. My prayers are for Alice to receive all the strength, support, comfort and whatever else she may need at this time.
• From Antoine ‘Tony’ Dennison, Lake of the Woods: I had the opportunity to meet and work with Dave on a few moving jobs. In the short time I’d known him I’d become enamored with his youthful spirit and charitable nature. I will always remember Dave’s ineffable kindness, infectious smile and easy-going nature; in my travels, he is the type of person I always hope to meet….
• From Linda MacKay, Lebec: If it wasn’t for Dave the Mountain Communities wouldn’t have a Boys & Girls Club. It was only because of the community dedication to having a club demonstrated through Dave’s efforts with, first the yard sales, then finally the store, that The Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County felt they could support our efforts in creating a club here.
Dave also helped raise funds for the skate park. Dave felt for and cared about the children of our community. Dave loved putting on the Easter event each year and seeing all the faces of the children when they did their Easter egg hunt and then when they got to pick a toy form all the toys he gathered during the year. It was such a special event that Dave was responsible for making happen each year. Dave put his money, time and sweat where his mouth was. I’ve never met anyone like him. I know others feel the same. Dave made a real difference in this community on so many levels. There have been so many families that have benefited from Dave’s help. He was one of the most generous, caring, positive people I’ve ever known.
Dave was also funny. He always made me laugh and feel better after talking with him. I can’t really believe he’s gone. No one was more alive than Dave. I benefited greatly from knowing Dave. He demonstrated how we should live our lives. I will miss my dear friend.
• From Robert LaBella, Fullerton, CA: Everybody who just met Dave or knew him, they would know right away how Dave was. He was a man of Honor, Truth, and Laughter. You could not have a bad day with Dave around you. He would make you sure of that he would crack a joke until you smiled. That would be the first thing.
Next Dave would see how he could help you have a prosperous and a blessed day. Dave would do anything. He would take the shirt off his back and give it to anybody who needed it. He was a true Santa. Dave would do anything to put a a smile on everybody’s face. Dave is a true saint from above.I had the pleasure of meeting Dave over 25 years ago in Brea, CA, andI I thank God I got the pleasure to meet a true captain. Till we all meet again, captain…Take care.
• From Christine Lauzon, Oak View, CA: You touched so many hearts and souls. You will be missed dearly. I don’t know anyone that has had such an impact on my life, as you had. You are happy next to God today, but we are all sad, because we lost a dear friend. Love you, Christine.
• From Patrice Stimpson, Pine Mountain: Dave was the first person to come into my new shop when I opened in Frazier Park in 2003. I’d never met this man before, but he brought me flowers just to wish me good luck. He wasn’t looking for anything except to give – he never took anything but a smile. I didn’t know people like Dave still existed. I am a better person for having known Dave, and our community was blessed that he and Alice chose to live here. He must have been needed for bigger things elsewhere. Not gone, just moved on. Love you Dave – they broke the mold on you.
• From Brandi Strode Duncan, Taft: I came to the mountain in 2006 as a single mother of three young children. I first met Dave through the Resource Center, the place that was also a saving grace for my children and I. I had absolutely no furniture, dishes, and I was very limited on clothes. Dave, with his most amazing heart, gave me a couch, beds, washer and dryer, dressers, silverwear, etc. and allowed me to go the Thrift store and get clothes when I needed them. He basically furnished a house for me which allowed me to make it a home. This is only one incident of many over the last 6 years where Dave was my saving grace. Not only was he my angel he was also a therapist, a comedian, a co-worker, a confidant, and most of all he was my friend. I knew that when I saw him I would walk away with a smile in my heart. He always made sure to say to me "…have I told you yet today? That I love you?"…He will be sorely missed, however, I know for a fact he is right where he belongs…in the heavens. May God bless his family and all that he touched with his generosity. And an inside joke between Dave and I: "…we will always have the cockroaches!"
ª From Eric and Donna Kuehn, Pine Mountain: I just found out Dave is gone. I am so sad for his beautiful wife Alice and the community as a whole. He never had a bad word – always had a smile and a helping hand and from what I could see never sat idle—working, hauling, finding and helping everywhere he could. He will be missed and I am certain we are all better off having known him. Hoping some of his generosity and kindness has rubbed off a little on us all as it is up to us now to fill those shoes. Grateful for his life and missing him already. Alice, I pray for you today if there is anything you need I hope I find out cause I will make sure you get it. I will stop by the Attic and tell you in person and give you our contact info. Sending our love.
• From the Edmundson family, Frazier Park: We read in the paper we could submit something in regards to Dave Da Handyman. Even just writing this, and from the moment we heard from Alice and our neighbors that our Dave was gone, the tears haven’t stopped. Dave was an awesome neighbor and a good example for our kids to grow up next to. You couldn’t pay for that kind of influence. It is an honor to live next door to Dave and Alice Assaly. They are truly a unique couple with a Love that reaches beyond our comprehension.
Before we could afford a computer, we remember how Dave would walk over to our house with his arms full of broken laptops, he would hand them to our youngest son, who in turn would play around and oftentimes get some to work. Dave would then hand those laptops out to families in need, Paul keeping one for himself as payment. Today our youngest son is in his twenties, he is a web developer and owns his own company, this kid can fix a wide variety of computer issues, we wonder if Dave knows all the lives he touched?
Here is our gossip living next to Dave Da Handyman and talking with him through the fence for many years: Dave never spoke a bad word about anyone. Who accomplishes that in their lifetime?
Our family Loves you Dave and our hearts are broken, we will miss our long talks through the fence, Dirk, Pearl, Dirk, Candy and Paul Edmundson
• From Sue Groves, of Harlingen, Texas (formerly of Pine Mountain): I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of one of the greatest characters I’ve ever known; I say "characters" in only the most profoundly respectful and loving manner, for it’s clear from the outpouring of emotion in The Mountain Enterprise that Dave "da Handyman" deeply touched so many lives.
Here was a gentle, mountain man, who worked tirelessly to help those in need. He and Alice always had a kind word, whether I saw them in town, or at their store, or even when I tearfully watched as Dave carted away more than a few truckloads of my dearest material possessions when my financial situation forced me to re-locate to Texas. Even after my move, Dave and Alice both continued their loving support long-distance. He may never have realized it, but his spiritual :"philosophy" was instrumental in my journey back to my faith, and I credit that support in my current practice of pastoral ministry, religious education (of second-graders), and my re-invigorated journalism career at the Diocese of Brownsville here in the Rio Grande Valley.
Dave knew deep-down that somehow, "Everything would work out," and I shall dearly miss hearing that gravely voice on the other end of the phone reassuring me that he KNEW this to be true. He also kept reminding me how he felt that "God has a sense of humor." Now, God has this special treasure with him in heaven, and I’m sure He can’t help but be amused.
My prayers are with Alice. It’s hard to understand why people are taken from us, but I hope you find comfort in knowing you were a special part of a well-lived life. The memories of Dave’s love and friendship are treasures that we will carry with us always.
• From Michele Baires and Family, Frazier Park: I feel blessed to have known Dave. He was a great man who did great things. He is truly one of a kind and He will be missed dearly. Alice, I am so sorry for your loss.
• From Bill DeSalme, Frazier Park:
Ode to Dave the Handy Man
All over the mountain you can fee! our sadness
as right in the middle of all our gladness
we learned of the passing of Handy Man Dave
He was our number one citizen
known to every single denizen
how can we ever replace our Handy Man Dave
If you needed help or just a kind word
you got the help and a blessing was heard
nothing was ever expected by Handy Man Dave
Name your own price was always the ticket
if you needed it delivered just say where to stick it
just look for that big truck driven by Handy Man Dave
No one knows where he found all those treasures
the help they have been only God measures
and now He has His Handy Man Dave
• From Peter Gullerud, Pine Mountain: Words cannot express the sadness for myself on word of the passing of our dear dear friend Dave. This summer, Dave and I talked about making recordings of his stories to share on the radio station, and I cannot begin to tell you all my regret on not taping this venture as soon as we agreed to do it. For some reason, I always thought I’d get around to it once he was all moved in to the new Name Your Price store in Frazier. Well, we all know the rest of the story. Dave, the last time I spoke with you was just before you died and you sold me some other tapes for the station. I’ll never forget you.
When I first moved here, I was down on my own luck and Dave and Alice filled my car with clothes and furniture. Filled literally. I helped Dave when he moved his lot way out into the desert boondocks, far away from Lebec or any town really. I helped him a few other times, but never like he helped me my first few weeks in the mountains. He encouraged me to teach art to kids. He and I shared spiritual talks. Our doubts, our confidences, our faith and the things that made our hearts warm and swell. We were on the same page most of the time. When Lori Smith’s memorial was given at the gazebo a few years ago, I felt all alone because I think I was one of the few who mentioned the Christian faith and I didn’t want to come off as "preachy". Prior to this, Dave and I shared some feelings which to most Christians may have sounded heretical. All it was, really, was the doubts we wrestled with sometimes. Nothing more, nothing less. The stuff people talk about when they are realer than real. So it was at Lori’s memorial, after I said my piece about her being in Heaven, that Dave came up and quoted Scripture (in his own humorous, "non-preachy" way of course). I think a tear came to my eye. I probably needed that "Dave moment" more than Lori. Actually I know I did.
God bless you, giving, giving, giving brother. Thank you for being an example I shall remember the rest of my life. You were an angel to so many. And yet another nail in the coffin in my heart of whatever doubt is left.
From Lori Murphy, Frazier Park: Five days before Dave’s passing, I was in the Name Your Price Store yakking with Dave about this and that. I’d mentioned the passing of Greg Keenburg, who was a close friend. Dave’s response was, “Yeah, baby, I’d take that ‘bus ride’ anytime!”
Early the next morning I was working in my print shop, which is next door to the thrift store, he came walking in with 3 cinnamon buns for me and my crew. I gave him a big hug, and thanked him so very much for thinking of us. That was the last time I saw him.
Over the years, we had worked on so many community projects for our folks in need which were mostly “under the radar.” That’s just how we both rolled.
I will miss him dearly. Words just can’t express the personal loss I feel.
He was a giving man with a huge heart who was loved by many, including me.
•From Patric Hedlund, Pine Mountain and Frazier Park (with The Mountain Enterprise): As a journalist I was a little disturbed that Dave da Handyman wouldn’t give us his last name. Gradually, I came to understand that Dave da Handyman was a genuine artist. His talent was for showing love. He made love visible every hour, every day. Of course, he was also very funny. Sometimes I’d see him in his big, chaotic truck with a teddy bear in bondage tied to the top. I’d think of Dave as Charlie Chaplin, or a fast-talking Catskills comic, as he traveled through town, pollinating people’s lives with a little laughter here…a little gift there…and the sense of excitement that he always showed in being able to help people to work through their problems.
Long before I came to the the Mountain Communities, I was a single mom adjusting to suddenly being an ‘empty nester.’ After taking my son to college, I was driving through California and had saved up to buy a ticket to see the comedienne Lily Tomlin fresh from Broadway, for a special performance in Los Angeles of her brilliant one-woman show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. The play was centered around a character called Trudy the Bag Lady—not too distant from what we all know about Dave da Handyman’s talent as a dumpster-diver in Santa Clarita.
The story of The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe is about Trudy the Bag Lady’s efforts to explain modern American materialism to a group of extraterrestrials. She does it sort of like the Ghost of Christmas Past in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Remember that? But instead of drifting through London with money-obsessed Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas eve, Lily Tomlin as Trudy shows the extraterrestrials American people suffering in their lives—some from material poverty and others who are nearly desperate with a wounding kind of shallowness—a lack of meaningful connection with other human beings. Some are living through fads—the ‘must have’ shoes or the expensive watches—that become just clutter when real life intrudes…the cancer diagnosis…or the injury or death of a child.
The play is really about the place where the material world bumps against the creative spirit to ignite a great big blaze of love. That is transcendence. Transformation. And that is another reason it makes me think of Dave. Dave was so creative in the way he was able to look at the world. He was a genius—and an artist—in being able to winnow through of the chaos of other people’s cast-offs to magically produce what really matters in people’s lives.
With the Name Your Price Thrift Store, Dave came into his own. He not only kept the Boys & Girls Club operating for six years until it got firmly on its own feet, he connected people to what they need. It really wasn’t so much the material items, but in serving the material needs, he reconnected people to their inner richness. He made people feel loved…and cared for. That is a big job. And so Dave worked. It looked like he never stopped.
The Name Your Price Thrift Store was a brilliant idea, all about transforming one person’s trash into another person’s treasures. His measure of success, he told me, was not how much money the business made, but how many people the business helped. By that measure, Dave ‘da Handyman’ Giniewicz may have been the most successful businessman any of us will ever know.
What kept him going was being able to see the magic that happened in people’s lives when they received what they needed. He supplied young filmmakers, photographers and theater groups when they needed costumes and props. He was like a creative lending library—for free.
And he helped vulnerable little families—moms who had babies, but no high chair, no crib or safe playpen. He found them the items they needed, to help make their homes safe and sweet and warm for their babies. He brought refrigerators to elders living on their own.
And he even hustled in with curtains for our newspaper office one time…Okay…they were dusty, and the color was… puce, right? Sort of a…tubercular lavender… faded … not our choice…but we put them up anyway…because he’d brought them with such a sense of urgency, and he was so happy and satisfied to have found them. It makes me laugh about it right now, just remembering his sense of “mission-accomplished” that day. And they are still hanging there, in our back room…A memory of Dave.
It is hard to think of one human being, able to touch so many lives, so deeply, in such a generous, humble, but driven way. Dave was on a mission. His mission, I think, was all of us. And his greatest talent was helping to peel away the veil, to help us all see that the value of “things” is only the use they serve in a human life, at a certain time, and then they are to be shared, and passed along, with love—and with that twinkle in the eye that let us always part from him with the blessing of a funny word and a laugh. He was really good at that. Like Dave always said, “It’s All Good.” And it is….
From Carol Lee Weber, Pine Mountain: This man Dave…one of those people who appear in your life just when you need them, and never ever leave. I was broke the day I met him, sleeping on the floor in a two bedroom apartment after losing my corporate job of 13 years in the city of L.A. I had sold just about everything, including my first cabin on the mountain, my Mustang GT and most of my furniture and jewelry. He showed up at the post office in Pine Mountain Village where I was working as a mail clerk. He introduced himself as "Dave da Handyman." He was passing out flyers for his annual Easter Egg Hunt down in Frazier Park. He told me that he loved to help anyone in need, most of all single moms and children. Dave loved the children, no matter their age, no matter their family’s financial status, no matter their color, religion or nationality.
That was me the day I met Dave, a single mom with a minimum wage job for the first time in my life, sleeping on the floor so my boy Shane could have what he needed; most would say probably a little more than he needed. That day I met Dave, I mentioned that I was a single mom, now struggling through motherhood. You see, I wasn’t used to having to go without. I always had a good job with good pay, a nice car and a clean, safe place to live. And when I was growing up, my parents did fine for themselves. I never really had to want. There was always someone to watch after me..until about 2002.
My son Shane, he was about 9 years old; that means I was 39. I told Dave the day that I met him I needed a bed, queen size if he could find it. The next day he strolled back into the post office after climbing out of his beat up old truck. He said, "where ya want your new bed?" I stood there in shock, tears rolling down my face. I wasn’t going to sleep on the floor that night or any other! He brought me a brand new bed, frame included, all still in the plastic wrap! He waited for me to finish up my day at work and followed me over to my apartment. You see, I was on foot that day…I had just sold the second most important car in my life, my little white convertible…five speed GT, super clean, fairly fast, my "other pride n’ joy."
Why didn’t he give me a ride in his truck that day? Because it was so full of donations and treasures that there wasn’t room for a passenger. He delivered my new bed, up two flights of stairs, all by himself. He would never think to allow a lady to lift something that big. That was just Dave. I cried with joy, hugged my new friend and tried to pay him what I could. Nope, he wouldn’t take a dime. He told me to donate whatever I didn’t need to The Boys and Girls Club when I was back on my feet, and he told me it didn’t matter when. Yes, I donated…and still do today.
A few years passed. I was lucky enough to work at the local post office until just before I passed my real estate exam. I entered my new position as Realtor at the peak of the market. I sold more homes on the mountain in 24 months than anyone would’ve thought I could sell in 10 years. I was lucky, but not just for my new job. I was lucky to have my friend Dave right by my side, calling me once a week to check how many listings I had or how many escrows I’d opened. He was part of my support system. He was always there…whether I needed him or not; and I always needed him because he was as dear a friend as a friend can be.
And here’s the most important part of our story. Dave da Handyman, he taught me how to pray. He taught me to be thankful and to share. Yes, I knew all about these things before I met Dave, but it was he who showed me the importance of it all. It was Dave who called me night after night to check on me after the real estate market began to crash in 2008. It was he who called when I was sick or when my car broke or when my son was doing what teenagers do. But it wasn’t just me who Dave called, it could have been you.
This man had more love in his heart than anyone I’ve ever known. Everyone loved Dave, and you knew it because everyone on the mountain waved to him, everyone stopped for a hug or to chat or to listen to him laugh. There was never a doubt in my mind, everyone loved Dave! From Frazier Park to Pine Mountain Club, from Lebec all the way down into Santa Clarita, everyone who knew Dave had a good word to say about him, about his work ethic, his big heart and his silly grin.
The years went by. Dave struggled with his heart. We discussed it more than once. He told me never to cry whenever the time came for him to meet his Lord. He told me to be thankful for our friendship, and I am.
Yes, I cried today when I heard the news and I suspect that I will cry again tomorrow and possibly the next day, too. In time those tears will fade and I will continue to tell my story with love in my heart and a smile on my face.
My dear friend Dave, his work here on earth is complete. I’d like to think I know the reason for the timing of his departure. Something tells me that 20 children new to heaven need a leader for their boys and girls club. I can’t think of a better reason for Dave to leave us so soon. He loved all the children…and all the children, they loved him.
Rest in Paradise, Dave da Handyman. And please, please, please, watch down over your sweet Alice, for I am very, very certain that she was a giant part of the reason you were you.
The Mountain Enterprise is making a book of this collection to donate to The Ridge Route Museum and the Frazier Park Library. A copy has already been printed for Dave’s wife, Alice Assaly.
This is part of the December 28, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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