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Tribute to David Canny and His Belief That We All Should Give Back to Platteville by Gene Weber

Those who had the opportunity to be touched by David Canny are certainly mourning the loss of one of Platteville’s premier supporters along with Karen and their families. David often mentioned how fortunate, how proud and how much he loved Karen, their children, grandchildren and extended families. He treasured their time past and most recently.


Although I knew David only as my eye doctor for many years, I really got to know David when he called out of the blue one evening and asked that I join the new Platteville Community Arboretum Board of Directors. David was helping start Katie’s Garden and forming the Platteville Community Arboretum.


As I would soon learn, David so loved Platteville that he had a long and vast history of helping others improve the quality of life in Platteville. His way was to help others and to do himself. But, most importantly his way was to enable others to see that they not only needed to help others in giving back to Platteville but that they also had a responsibility to do so.


David "Doc" Canny 1931-2010

When I signed on to David’s PCA board, I only asked one thing of David and that was that I would do no fundraising as I had done too much of that in Jaycee years. A few months later when David had his board in place and Katie’s Garden was a reality, it quickly became apparent to David that he needed funding to attain PCA vision. If I might just help him prepare to do that, it would be an immense help and then if I might join him in visiting the first bank or two since my sons’ grew up with some of the banks and other business President’s children. And so we visited with Bob, Chuck, Rick, Bob, Pat, Doug, Gary, Jo, and others. The vast respect and out pouring of support (financial and otherwise) that these folks had for David and his vision was just phenomenal. They supported a start up environmental service organization because they had seen David help others lead and assist in many others.


The Platteville Community Arboretum (a follow-on to the Friends of Rountree Branch group) has gone on to bring about many of environmental projects (botanical, picnic and community gardens; oak savannah restoration, etc.) and been the recipient of gifts, acres of property and thousands of hours of volunteer support. David led and helped bring such talented Directors, Leaders and Volunteers in to enable this to be ongoing. They all make it happen. And Platteville has been the beneficiary of these quality of life improvements.


6 months ago, due to the tougher economic times, David noted our PCA membership was not growing. David calls me and says: ‘Gene, we need to do something to change this despite the times and I am going to donate a $1000 for matching membership funds. What I want you to do is visit with Cindy Tang, Jim Schneller, etc. as they will help us.” And as an aside, David says: “Oh b the way, I just found out I have terminal brain cancer – not to worry though, I have had the most wonderful life with Karen, our children and with all the good people of Platteville – no regrets as I am totally at peace with God and life, but we have much to get done and now the time is short.” How could I not do this?


In visiting with Jim Schneller about this, Jim shared that “David has done so much and as a result has the ability to suggest we all could be doing a bit more to give back to Platteville without offending – and he is entirely correct.”


So if you are inclined to honor David’s memory and the many in our community like David, give back some of your time, talent, and treasure to improve quality of life in Platteville whether it be to PCA, Holiday Project, Cub, Boy or Girl Scouts or whatever. Or as Jan and my three sons have often said: “We were raised in a little dream world in Platteville – let’s keep it that way and appreciate it.”

Thank you, David.

Tribute to David Canny  by Kris Wright

David Canny touched so many lives…it truly boggles the mind.


I never knew the David Canny many of you did. Thus I cannot speak to his role as a family member, optometrist, business associate, realtor, or fishing buddy; although I am confident the impression he left on you, as he touched your lives, will last forever.


I am truly fortunate that David played many important roles in my life. David was a great mentor, a tireless motivator, an infinite source of inspiration, and one of my dearest friends. I first met David 9 years ago when Angie and I moved to Platteville. It seemed like no-time before David had taken both of us under his wing and got us involved with the Friends of the Rountree Branch. Shortly thereafter David helped convince the local chapter of Trout Unlimited that this young and impressionable biology professor at UWP might be able to use his students to conduct research of interest to the chapter. Then before I knew it, I was helping David create some new organization called the Platteville Community Arboretum. And so it went for the past 9 years…


L-R: Kris Wright, David Canny & Gene Weber

I think one thing we can all agree on was that David was never short on ideas. I used to tell people that they needed to be aware of the ‘David Vortex’. Getting whisked away in one of David’s idea-generating frenzies was an awesome, and yet, often overwhelming experience. Curiously, if no-one questioned or challenged an idea, David would simply take it and run with it until it crashed or blossomed. Perhaps one of the reasons David and I got along so well, was that I would allow him to brainstorm a hurricane and then help him filter the potential crashes. But in the end, regardless of the outcome, David’s positive attitude would persist and a new idea would pop in his head. Amazingly, every one of those ideas would have to do with helping someone else or benefiting the community. Amazing.


Actually, I think what made David such a wonderful and exceptional person, was his unique combination of traits. David had the tenacity of a pit bull, the vision of an oracle, the stubbornness of an ox, the patience of a saint…well…sometimes, the mind of a hard-drive, the heart of a giant, and a genuine love for life. Surely we are all unique combinations in our own right, but David was clearly special. Somehow his blend of traits allowed him to play all the roles he did in all of our lives. Somehow his blend of traits allowed him to touch each and every one of us. Somehow his blend of traits allowed him to make us all better people.


Ultimately, one thing is clear…David Canny loved life.


And so today, and from this point forward, may we celebrate and honor David’s life and the love he shared.

Thank you David.

We love you.

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