Friends and family of Silvesta Daye Jr. gathered at the barbershop Shai’Zi Beyond Cuts in Essex on Friday not only to raise money for funeral costs, but to remember a man with an indomitable spirit, sense of humor and steadfast faith.
Dozens of people, many who grew up with Daye in Essex and bore his face on custom-made shirts, came to the barber shop Friday in what Ian McDonald — Daye’s friend who helped organize the fundraiser — said was a celebration of Daye’s life, and also a reunion.
“He could bring people together, definitely,” said McDonald, who filmed comedy sketches they posted online under the name Redz Dabarber.
Outside, Daye’s friends, many who hadn’t seen each other for several years, hugged and laughed. Some shared stories of Daye — if someone in the barbershop swore in front of children there, Daye chastised them and made them pay the child a dollar while he apologized on their behalf. He often played at an old pool hall on Back Neck Road, and trained to be a boxer.
He also “took so many losses and hardships,” said Kevin Modecki, who grew up with Daye. A motorcycle accident in the early 2000s severely impaired his vision.
“He always bounced back and kept a smile on his face,” Modecki said. “His spirit never went down.”
“And it never will,” said Ralph Hinton, Daye’s friend.
When Daye spoke of his Muslim faith, he did so with earnestness and inspired others to learn, said Quaddai Levi, who owns the Shai’Zi barbershop and met Daye when he began frequenting his shop more than a year and a half ago.