R.I.P. Michael O’Connor Clarke

Michael O’Connor Clarke was the “Good Guy Greg” of the Toronto blogosphere. He was part of the social glue that held the Toronto tech community together, even before its DemoCamp days, friend and trusted advisor to so many of us who specialized in corralling eyeballs, pixels or code and organizer of HoHoTO, a regular charity event that brings tens of thousands of much-needed dollars to the Daily Bread Food Bank. On top of that, he had an impressive resume and was a husband, father of three children and sole breadwinner of the household.

Michael was diagnosed earlier this year with esophageal cancer, an aggressive variety of the disease, and he died last night. My heart goes out to his wife Leona and his kids, Charlie, Lily and Ruairi.

I owe Michael all sorts of debts for his help throughout the years, from referring the Globe and Mail to me to giving me the best damned media training ever in a half-hour over coffee to always greeting me with a smile and a joke whenever I saw him. I plan to repay those debts by following his example as best I can.

I’ll leave you with AKMA’s words about Michael:

Michael is already a winner, a bigger winner than ’most anyone I know, and he will always be. We have a job to do, now, of holding him and his dear ones tight in an embrace, a solidarity, a real, effectual net woven by our caring and our love — but we can’t lose sight of the real goal, to which Michael gives so much time and energy. We have to build out the network of our effectual love and caring till it avails not just for people we know first-hand, but reaches even to strangers and eventually even to f*cknozzles, because none of us can stand alone against all the forces of corruption and exploitation and violence. Michael’s drawing Toronto further toward that, contributing his skills and resources and energy to the Daily Bread Food Bank; by all means let’s rally to Michael’s side, show him our respect and solidarity, and by sharing in his spirit of generosity and love, share with him in winning something vast and vital and imperishable, something that cancer can’t touch. Help Michael and his family. Make someone laugh; feed someone; give a hand to someone who needs a boost; find a way to hire someone; knit us all together more kindly, more securely. That’s the win; that’s what I have to say for Michael: a champion, an unbeatable champion.

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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