It was clear from the 80 people who attended a ceremony in Marpole last Thursday to remember the late Rick Hofs that he meant a lot of things to a lot of people.
Take Clarence Gardner and Jason Filipchuk.
The two men hadn’t met each other until they showed up to Marpole Place to honour Hofs, a homeless man who died Dec. 27 behind a Marpole dollar store.
By the time the afternoon ceremony ended, Gardner and Filipchuk embraced in a hug. Hofs had everything to do with it.
Gardner, 61, arrived at Marpole Place with an old three-quarter-sized children’s guitar. Or, as he called it, “a piece of cheese.”
After listening to several tributes from friends, Gardner followed up on a promise to Hofs’ sister Louise Wilson to play a song — a stirring version of the Beatles’ “I’ll be back.”
Before his big, soulful voice took over the room, he told a story about Hofs wanting to buy him a better guitar. Hofs and Gardner met three years ago and shared a few drinks over the years. Hofs worked occasionally as a carpenter but was believed to be on social assistance.
“I told him once you get an apartment and you have me over for a couple of beers, then maybe we’ll talk about a new guitar. But for now just forget about it,” said Gardner who was injured in a motorcycle crash and collects assistance for a disability. “I didn’t want anything to do with the fact that he was even considering that. It was a nice thing for him to say, granted.”
Filipchuk listened intently to Gardner’s story. As the ceremony came to a close, he quickly dashed home and returned with a guitar in his hand.
He handed it to Gardner, who was overwhelmed by the gesture. It had been collecting dust, could use some new strings but it was a lot better than what he had.
“Just great, man,” said Gardner and gave Filipchuk a hug.
When the Courier approached Filipchuk to ask him about what he just did, he said he came from a long line of musicians who handed down instruments.
But that wasn’t the only reason.
“It was Clarence telling the story about Rick saying that he’d like to get him a better guitar — that’s what did it,” said Filipchuk, who last saw Hofs a few days before Christmas.
Filipchuk had known Hofs for eight years and sometimes looked after his pit bull cross, Bandit. He sat with two of Hofs’ nieces during the ceremony.
“That meant a lot to me,” he said. “Rick was a good man.”