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Silvesta Daye Jr.’s friends, family celebrate his life, raise money for funeral after mass shooting

Silvesta Daye Jr., 43, was shot and killed while shopping inside a Royal Farms store in Essex on Sunday morning. Photo courtesy of Abdul Shakur
Silvesta Daye Jr., 43, was shot and killed while shopping inside a Royal Farms store in Essex on Sunday morning. Photo courtesy of Abdul Shakur (Abdul Shakur)

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.

Daye, 43, was among those killed when a gunman fired on a Royal Farms convenience store Sunday in Essex before killing himself.

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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.

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Silvesta Daye Jr. (back right) attends an Eid celebration with friends in 2017. Daye, 43, was shot and killed while shopping inside a Royal Farms store in Essex Sunday morning. Photo courtesy of Abdul Shakur
Silvesta Daye Jr. (back right) attends an Eid celebration with friends in 2017. Daye, 43, was shot and killed while shopping inside a Royal Farms store in Essex Sunday morning. Photo courtesy of Abdul Shakur (Abdul Shakur)

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.

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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.

And above all, Daye loved to make people laugh.

“I just thought he was the funniest person,” Levi said. “He came to the shop [a few days] out of the week just to sit for hours and hang out with us and tell us stories and make us laugh.”

“If you look up in the sky and see the sunshine ... that’s how I reflect on him,” said Hinton. “He would always have a smile.”

Inside the barbershop, Felicia Bookman, wearing a shirt memorializing Daye, danced as the DJ played. Others sat in barber chairs, talking and laughing.

Proceeds from the tickets, which were used to pay for drinks, were donated to Daye’s GoFundMe, which will be used to pay for his funeral and support his family. He leaves behind two daughters.

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