Flood waters carry away memorial bench from edge of Grand River in Conestogo

Flood waters on Friday carried away David Simon's memorial bench from the edge of the Grand River in Conestogo. The bench was a special place for Simon, and a makeshift grave marker for his surviving family.
The bench serves as Simon's gravesite, a place where the family goes to 'have a drink with Dad' on special occasions, like on Simon-Hendel's wedding day.

When the flood waters rose on Friday the Grand River spilled its banks and took with it David Simon's memorial bench from the fifth green on the Conestoga Golf Course's Goose Run in Conestogo.

Simon, 75, died last year of pulmonary fibrosis and the fifth green had always been a special place for him, his daughter Kate Simon-Hendel told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

"It's actually placed in a spot that my Dad would call his 'office,' so if he said he was 'going to the office' you knew where he was going."

David Simon called this spot on the Grand River his 'office' - but with a view like this, no work ever really got done there, said his daughter Kate.

Simon would walk or drive an old golf cart 100 meters from their home out to what at the time was a rickety old bench on the bank of the Grand River.

Of course no work ever got done out there, Simon-Hendel said with a laugh. 

'The bench is really like his gravestone'

So when he died, the family's neighbour, Tom Nitsche, and his sons built a bench and installed it on a re-enforced platform. 
David Simon died in April, 2016 of pulmonary fibrosis.

An engraved plaque reads "In memory of David John Simon. 'Mr. Wilson' " — in reference to Nitsche's two boys, and the legendary grumpy neighbour in the Dennis the Menace comics.

"It's a place we go on a regular basis, and on special occasions we have a drink with Dad down there. On Father's Day we were there all together," said Simon-Hendel.

"It's like a gravesite, really... His ashes were scattered, so this is where we go to be with him, and the bench is really like his gravestone."

The bench was last seen on Thursday, and when Simon-Hendel's mother went down to check on it Saturday morning, it was gone. 


The Grand River flows from Conestogo down to Preston and then into Paris, said Simon-Hendel. She said she figures there's a 50-50 chance that someone might see it, or part of it, and said she'd love to have part of it back. 

"The water was moving so quickly. There is a chance it has been broken apart, but even if we can get back just the part with the plaque, it would be so meaningful to us."

The memorial bench on Father's Day. Water washed away the reinforced platform as well as David Simon's memorial bench. Somehow, the pot of flowers was spared, said his daughter Kate. (Submitted by: Kate Simon-Hendel )


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