NORTH LIBERTY — A lifelong North Liberty resident known as the “can man” and community icon has died.
David Slade, 77, died Feb. 1 at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Slade often was seen riding his three-wheeled bicycle around North Liberty, picking up recyclable cans and bottles, Mayor Terry Donahue said.
“He was a fixture or an icon, whatever you want to call it,” Donahue said this week.
Jimmie Miller, 68, a friend of the Slade family, also considered Slade an icon. Slade was disabled and couldn’t communicate well, but that didn’t stop him from being a presence in the community, Miller said.
“Davey liked to know what was going on,” he said. “He would patrol the town.”
Miller, who volunteered with the North Liberty Fire Department for 32 years, said Slade would go to the fire station when a siren sounded. He made sure the doors got closed or did “traffic control” when firefighters were backing the trucks into the bays, Miller said.
Before firefighters left on a call, someone would write down the address and type of call in a notebook Slade always carried. Slade would show the notebook to others so they knew what the call was about, Miller said.
“We always looked out for Davey,” he said. “But Davey looked out for us, too.”
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Slade lived with his brother, Mike. Mike Slade said Davey loved to ride his three-wheeled bike. His brother would pick up cans, and they’d redeem them together.
“He’d have money to count,” he said. “Once in a while, we’d take off and go down to the casinos.”
Donahue said Slade’s bike was stolen once, and esidents pitched in to buy him a new one. He participated in North Liberty’s annual parades.
“He could be considered as everyone’s neighbor,” Donahue said in a statement circulated by the city. “He is a piece of North Liberty history that will be missed.”
Mike Slade said his brother liked listening to live music, watching professional wrestling, going on road trips and cheating in cards.
“He was just a very special person,” said Darlene Smith of North Liberty. “We all respected Davey. ... He was just a really nice guy.”
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