Monique Tamminga, Black Press
When a teacher at Surrey’s Holly Elementary showed students a Peace Arch News article about Langley’s “Scooter Man,” they were asked to write a letter about what they think of his acts of kindness.
Sadly, Cliff Steele died just two weeks after PAN published a story May 24 detailing how the nonagenarian refurbished second-hand scooters and wheelchairs to fix up and donate to those in need.
However, Steele’s daughter, Darlene, assures he got to read every single “heartwarming” letter when they arrived in the mail earlier this month .
The letters, often decorated in colourful drawings, thanked Steele for showing them that it is better to give than to receive. Many promised to try and do some good deeds themselves, which is exactly what he loved to read, said his daughter.
“These 11-year-old kids’ words were so thoughtful, so touching,” said Darlene last week.
At age 93, her father lived his life with his foot on the throttle and that’s how he died, she said.
“Dad was a man of action and he died in action.”
On June 8, after working on the scooters he was repairing, he walked from his garage to the adjoining door to his home and collapsed.
He died not long after in hospital, from a ruptured aneurism in his aorta.
“He died very suddenly and was in no pain,” she said.
For the past five years, the spry senior had been quietly buying used scooters and electric wheelchairs and fixing them up to give to people in need, for free, no strings attached.
“I refurbish them and give them to people who need them. It’s a free service I’ve been offering and I’ve given away around 20 of them,” Steele said in a recent interview.
With a background in mechanics, refurbishing scooters was a hobby and pleasure, he said.
He was able to refurbish up to three scooters a day, if given the product, he said.
Not only did he give the scooters away, which cost around $4,000 to buy new, but he also did all the maintenance on them for free for the duration of the equipment’s existence. With 20 already given away, he was in regular contact with most of the people who own the scooters now.
“A lot of these people were housebound before, and they get a new life when they get a scooter,” he told Black Press.
Steele noted that since the article came out about him, the response had “been outstanding.” Not only were many people willing to donate scooters, but he had met a man willing to do the electrical aspects of the scooters and another who volunteered to pick up and drop off the scooters that were donated or bought by Steele.
Darlene has worked all weekend to get all the information about those waiting for a scooter from Steele.
“Everyone that was on the wait list will get a scooter,” she said.
But she has asked that no more scooters be donated.
When asked why he wanted to donate his time for others, Steele’s reply was simple: “When life has been good to you, do good for others.”
A celebration of Steele’s life was held earlier this month at one of his favourite places, the Langley Seniors Centre.