A man who died alongside his girlfriend in a house fire last month is being described by his family as a gentle giant who was well known for volunteering his gardening skills in the community.
Around the Harvest Hills and Beddington neighborhoods, Ryan White was known as the guy biking to homes to help others with their gardening. This is just one example of the man he was, said Ryan’s brother Josh Munroe.
“He was a very happy-go-lucky guy. He woke up with a smile on his face. He had a passion for gardening and he was a loving brother and son,” Munroe said. “He loved to help our mother with whatever she needed.”
Munroe also noted the talkative demeanour that his brother carried with him throughout his life.
“He made friends easily. He was quite popular in the area,” he added. “He was always out either walking or riding his bike.”.
After suffering a brain injury while at work 15 years ago, Ryan was unable to drive and it became challenging to live on his own, but that didn’t stop him from loading up his backpack with tools and volunteering at the gardens at Calgary’s Dean House.
“He was so happy, with a smile on his face even though he’s carrying tons of boxes, it’s how I remember him,” Munroe’s partner Jennifer Robinson said. “The best hugs you ever had and the biggest smile — just always a really happy guy who helped everyone.”
White and his girlfriend had been staying at his sister’s house in Harvest Hills on Sept. 10 when the fire broke out. The two were in the attached garage at the time of the blaze and Munroe said his sister Tasha got her two kids out of the house before rushing back to save Ryan and his girlfriend.
According to Munroe, Tasha suffered burns to her hands trying to reach her brother.
“All of her fingers were burned and blistered. It was just too smoky. The firefighters said it was too late. No one is alive in there; they were holding her back,” Munroe said.
White and his girlfriend died in the fire.
In addition to dealing with the grief, Robinson said Tasha is also struggling to find an affordable place to stay with her two-year-old and five-year-old children.
“I think it’s really hard to be displaced because they lost their home and they don’t know what’s happening,” she said. “I’ve heard them say a couple of times, ‘I want to go home. Can we go home now?’ They obviously don’t understand why they can’t go home.”
A funeral service was held at the Calgary Zoo for Ryan last week — a place he loved to take Tasha’s kids.
A fundraiser has been set up to help the young family.