Monday, December 13, 2010


My workmate Dean died in his sleep on Wednesday night. A couple of weeks ago, he'd had a heart attack. He managed to call the ambulance, which got him to intensive care in time to save him. He recovered in hospital, then had a few days rest at home. On Wednesday he was back at work for the first time, but he said he was feeling pretty tired. He didn't appear at work the next day. I was pretty busy and thought about him a few times, but I guessed he had gone back to hospital or something like that. No-one could raise him on the phone. Our boss Steve was pretty concerned, as Dean lived alone.

I had the day off on Friday. I played tennis early, then got a call from work on my way home to say that Dean's ex had found him. I went in to work to see if there was anything I could do. We only have about a dozen staff; Dean, Dave and I are the only designers. Steve, Craig, Jeff and Kath spent the morning calling people who knew Dean to tell them, and also calling clients to try to reschedule work. They were all pretty strung out after a few hours. It was very strange to hear them say "OK - can you come in on Monday and talk to Chris who will be taking over your project? ... I'm afraid Dean died on Wednesday."

We had a mini-wake for him at work that evening. I could tell that everyone was having trouble coming to terms with it. Because he was away for ten days already, his really-gone-ness will take time to sink in for everyone. People chatted about this and that, then someone would say something about Dean, then the conversation would move on. I didn't feel like there was any real acknowledgment that he wasn't coming back.

I sat diagonally opposite him at a group of tables in the middle of the room. (I'm having trouble getting the tenses right as I type this). He was a meticulous guy, very methodical with how he put things together and filed everything. He was quiet - worked with his headphones on a lot (like I do). He was a very, very good designer. I had worked side by side with him since the mid-nineties, and always aspired to have the sure hand with type and colour that he had. He was the most unpretentious guy - his best mates were all people he'd known for 30 years; fishermen, farmers and bikies.

Although I knew him a long time (and even went to his wedding way back), we only did one thing just together in that time. About six weeks ago we went to a careers evening put on by the professional association (that neither of us have ever joined), and spoke about what it's like to be crusty old graphic designers. We had a few beers and enjoyed each others company in a low-key blokey way.

He leaves behind 3 kids between 8 and 16, and a kelpie pup. He was only 48. I will be one of many at the funeral wishing I had taken the time to really get to know him better.


Legwarmer Productions said...

thanks for this Chris -

chris.dadness said...

Sorry to bring you such sad news mate.

Anonymous said...

so nice to read messages about my bro funny and sweet and generous and everything a sister could want in a big brother thanks for your thoughts sally de vries x

Anonymous said...

I met Dean when I was 17...he was my older sisters house mate, they lived together for a few years then fell in love..Dean was an uncle to my three children, he was a great father to Jesse, Tom and Millie.
Dean was my mate...he offered to help me move 24 hours before he died.
Dean is my best friends brother!!! In the 20 years I have know Dean we had many a Christmas/birthdays/wedding celebrations together, its going to be very strange to not have him around ever again xx
I was lucky enough to spend lots of time with his family over the last week we laughed and cried.
To my sister Sarah....I think your amazing and I know you will help your children through this xxxxxxxx

chris.dadness said...

It's no surprise really to see Dean has a great family - it helped make him who he was. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Dean was my dear uncle who always made me laugh, his great humour runs in the family, I spent 21 wonderful years with dean, Our family is very close and the death of dean hit us all so hard... The hardest thing i ever had to do was read a letter from his young daughter millie at his funeral, I didnt think i could do it, but i got up and read it for dean and millie. Dean is greatly missed and christmas this year will not be the same with out the jokes and the shit stirring from dean... Dean i love you and u are apart of who i am today :) I thank everyone who attended the funeral... Love ur niece Emma kate xxxx

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris
Your thoughts on Dean are lovely and I hope you know just how much respect he had for all of you at Roar.
I want to thank you for the slide show you put together it was perfect.
His death has had a huge impact on everyone who knew him and it is going to take a long time to come to terms with it. Hopefully over time it will get easier.
Last night Millie was really upset because dad will not be here on christmas morning.I told her that as long as he is in your thoughts and your heart he will always be with her and all of us who knew him.
Thanks again Chris
Sarah, Jess, Tom and Millie

chris.dadness said...

Thank you for your comments, Emma and Sarah. I'm glad you were happy with the slide show - it was hard for us putting it together, but also just nice to see him again.

If I or Roar can do anything at all to help, with Dean's computer or anything else, please get in touch. My email is chris[at]roarfilm[dotcomdot]au

Anonymous said...

Just came across your blog Chris. I'm one of Dean's sisters in Perth. Thank you for the slide show, Sarah gave me a copy for Dad and we've watched it together. I still can't believe I'll never speak to Dean again... but thank you for letting the world know just what an amazing man he was.
Elivia de Vries

chris.dadness said...

Hi Elivia - I'm glad we could contribute something to help everyone remember Dean. Look after each other x

Sally said...

Hi there Chris, I just stumbled across your blog (via a retaining wall). Neal rang me a few days after Dean died to tell me, and to let me know that he was going to his service in Hobart. I wish I could have come down too – his death has made a huge Deano-shaped hole in the worlds of everyone who knew him.

It was good to read what you wrote Chris, it was fun working with Dean, he was a sweetheart. Radioheads' OK Computer will always remind me of him, and Alanis Morisette.

And hi there Sarah, that must have been exceptionally hard for you. I hope you're OK. Big love to you and the kids. xxx

Sally V

chris.dadness said...

Hi Sal V. Yes, he was a good guy to work with. The music that makes me think of Dean is the Pogues, Weddoes and that sort of thing. And jeez - the guy knew a lot about vikings.

Anonymous said...

Dean worked in a team I led at the Federal Group , and we had many a conversation over a smoke in those days. We stayed in touch after the Federal days and he did bits and pieces of his great design work for me as I worked on eclectic and varied projects. I was in awe of his talent and I was probably one of the few who could get away with "asking" him to do things a certain way- or at least suggesting them. We last talked on the phone whilst he was in horspital and on facebook the day before he died, he was feeling down and unwell bit didn't want to worry anyone. I'm very sad he is lost to his adored kids and I miss his dry wit and perspective heaps.
RIP Deano