Shane Sherlock was a fixture in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
He could always be seen spending time with his four kids and Stephanie Tribe, his wife of 26 years — and their dogs. He had a wicked sense of humour, liked to spark conversations — especially controversial ones — and was no stranger to having a good time.
Sherlock died on Feb. 5, after suffering a heart attack while working alone at his job as a welder for a company in Stoney Creek. He was 52.
In the days since his death, the Sherlock/Tribe family has had their lives turned upside down.
“I did all his laundry on Friday and then he passed away on Saturday, and I'm like rifling through all his stuff trying to find something that smells bad,” Tribe said in an interview.
She said she has one of Sherlock's ball caps, ragged and worn in true Shane fashion, which she's been keeping close.
“It's stiff with sweat and smells like metal, and that was him. Just sweaty metal. So I sleep with that at night, which is weird but it is what it is,” she said.
“I wake up in the night and I forget for a split second, and then I have a cry and then I fall asleep again.”
She said her husband's death has been particularly hard on their children, especially their young son Ty, “because that's his best guy pal.”
Their kids Marty and Ty are still playing hockey, and Tribe said at the rink is a time she really misses him.
“I'm constantly looking out of the corner of my eye because he should be there. We stand together at the boards and he screams at the refs, shouts at everybody, do all this stuff, like he's the coach, but he's just this dude on the sidelines.”
The Niagara-on-the-Lake community has banded together to support the family.
“My phone literally has not stopped since last Saturday,” Tribe says, adding the support has been almost overwhelming.
Ty's friends and their parents have been especially supportive, she said. Shortly after Sherlock died, a group of 11-year-old boys he had coached in flag football during the pandemic showed up at the house to offer their condolences and their love for him.
“I told the one mom and she let all the moms know, and they all show up at the house and they're all bringing like some kind of food or whatever — and then it was like they're all crying and they're all like, 'We really loved your dad. And you're so cool.' “
Friend Alison Waller started a GoFundMe for the family and as of Wednesday afternoon it had raised $19,895.
Tribe said she has a hard time even looking at it, “because we're very prideful.”
“I'm like, 'I can't ask people to do that. Like they just can't' and you know, because there are others worse off people than me,” Tribe said.
But her friends didn't take no for an answer.
The money will certainly help, she said, as the family navigates how it will pay mortgages and other costs into the future.
“People I don't even know have donated $1,000. It's mind blowing to me,” she said.
Another friend, Jennifer Buchanan-Olsen, started a Google Drive spreadsheet with foods the family likes, to create a meal plan for the family until the end of March.
“I think it's a fantastic idea because I know people that have lost people and it would have been a really great idea to have that. I have a hot meal delivered to my house every night at 6 p.m. from now until the end of March.”
Again, Tribe initially declined the help, but the community refused to listen.
Those meals have also helped a lot, she said. Especially in the first few days, they often just didn't think about eating.
And since then, she's been avoiding being in public for a while, because “I can't go anywhere in town without seeing somebody that contributes to some sort of memory.”
The people, the kids — that's what it was about for Sherlock. And still is for the family.
“I've had tons of people message me privately and they're like, 'You know what, I'm never gonna forget those summers where we'd all have our blankets out, and Shane's in the pool spinning all the kids around and everybody's getting their turn.' “
Sherlock was always there for his kids, she said.
“Just present, like 100 per cent there. Not 'OK, I'll watch you play at the park.' It's, 'I'm going down the slide. We're playing together.' “
She said she wishes her husband was around to see the number of people reaching out — some of whom they haven't connected with in years.
“I want to tell him, like, 'Oh my God. You won't believe who commented.' “
She said Sherlock, like many longtime NOTL residents who have witnessed the town change drastically over the last few decades, had been getting frustrated and thinking about moving.
However, she said if he could see the outpouring of support, he would have changed his mind.
“He would be like, 'You know what? This is the Niagara that I grew up with. This is the Niagara that I remember.' Really, it would bring him so much comfort to know how many people have reached out to his family, reached out to his kids and just want to help in some minor way.”
A celebration of his life is planned for May 29.