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“Life goes on. It’s going to be hard, with bad times and good times, of course. But there is nothing you can do.”
- Diane MacNeil, Ryan Nehiley's aunt
Ryan Nehiley obviously touched many lives during his short time in this world.
Red eyes, tears, sombre hugs and consoling handshakes exchanged among hundreds of people who pushed their way into the Spryfield Legion on Thursday afternoon were ample testament to Nehiley’s mark on the community.
Nehiley was shot and killed on the evening of Nov. 23 in his home on Clovis Avenue, less than a kilometre away from the legion that hosted his memorial tribute six days later.
He was only 25.
“It’s amazing,” Diane MacNeil, his aunt, said of the crowd who gathered to share memories and condolences with her brother, Bob, and his wife, Sheila, Ryan’s father and mother.
“You know that someone is loved when you see crowds like this. A lot of young people, of course, and he was young.”
Nehiley’s obituary described him as a a graduate of J.L. Ilsley High School who was known for playing competitive hockey.
“He was a guy who loved style and always looked perfectly manicured,” the obituary reads. “He was a friend to many and always enjoyed socializing. Over and above all, Ryan was a loving father. He treasured his children, Chase and Maci.”
MacNeil said the reality of “two beautiful children” forced to grow up without a father is a very sad situation.
“I know Bobby and Sheila won’t let those kids do without. Their mom, Darrah, her and Ryan weren’t together anymore but they were still friends.”
The obituary referred to Darrah Pelham as (Neils) Nehiley’s best friend and said he is survived by a brother, Shawn.
Police responded to a weapons call at Nehiley’s address at about 8:55 p.m. on Nov. 23. He was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.
Investigators believe Nehiley was shot inside his residence and that more than one person was involved in the offence. He owned Chronic Releaf Medical Dispensary at 3700 Joseph Howe Dr., a cannabis dispensary that was the site of a suspicious fire set on Aug. 2. A suspect in the fire was not located and police have not linked the fire and Nehiley’s shooting. They are still investigating.
Nehiley did not have a criminal record.
Nehiley has been cremated and a GoFundMe account has been organized to help the family.
“I knew him since the day he was born,” said his aunt, who lives in Upper Tantallon. “He was born premature, a little fart. I’ve got pictures of him in a snow bank out beside our house.
“He was a good kid. It’s a bad world, no, it’s a good world with a few bad people in it, I should say.”
Nehiley apparently made friends easily.
“Ryan was an amazing friend to me for many years,” Chelsea Supple wrote in an online condolence on the J. Albert Walker Funeral Home website.
Matthew Chisholm wrote on the same site: “I only met Ryan recently. He and I would chat in the schoolyard as we dropped our kids off in the mornings. He was a great guy who was always smiling, and always friendly to me. It was clear how much pride he took in his children and I admired that.”
MacNeil said her nephew had given her a special nickname.
“He always called me Didi. When he got a little older, one day, he called me Diane and I told him never to do it again. He never did. Every time we would see him, even as an adult, it was always Didi.”
MacNeil said the family is receiving phenomenal support from the community.
“You have to live,” she said of what comes next. “Life goes on. It’s going to be hard, with bad times and good times, of course. But there is nothing you can do.”