Friends and family are mourning the loss this week of an Elmira man and his friend, a former resident.
Brian Maher, a Woolwich firefighter and local business owner, and Peter Surey were killed in a single vehicle collision on May 5 near Killarney, Ont.
The two 27-year-olds were longtime friends, having attended Elmira District Secondary School together.
The Elmira native was one of four founders of the popular St. Jacobs brewery, Block Three Brewing, as well as a volunteer firefighter in the St. Jacobs station. His business partners and fellow firefighters are mourning his loss.
Woolwich Township fire chief Dale Martin says Maher’s passing leaves a hole at the St. Jacobs firehouse.
“A guy like that, it is pretty tough boots to fill. We’re going to miss him,” he said.
Maher joined the fire department as a volunteer in August 2015 and immediately made an impression.
“He was one of our newest members, but he was a friend to everybody. He is going to be dearly missed by everybody,” said Martin, adding that Maher was always the first to lend a helping hand. “He was a very community-minded person. He was always the first to volunteer for anything that the fire department was involved with. He always wanted to be part of this and that.”
Outside of the fire hall, Maher was a friendly face frequently seen at Block Three Brewing, founding the brewery with three friends, Graham Spence, Phil Hipkiss and Derek Lebert, in 2013. Spence says Maher was the best kind of friend.
“Bryan was a great friend a truly genuine and loyal friend. Thoughtful and kind,” he said in an email to the Observer, adding that his qualities as a friend spilled over to his role at Block Three. “As a colleague, he was talented, hardworking and able to fix anything.”
For now, Spence says the St. Jacobs brew pub will keep serving the community.
“The brewery is pretty somber at the moment, but we know that Bryan would want us to continue on and get things back to whatever normal is,” he said.
A funeral service for Maher will be held at Dreisinger Funeral Home in Elmira on May 12. Surey’s service will be May 14.