AMSTERDAM — Family and friends are seeking community support to honor the wishes of one man who lost his life and to help another pick up the pieces following a fire in Amsterdam.
David L. Crandell, 43, of 42 Stewart St., died in a fire in his second-floor apartment on Monday night.
Serria Thomas, Crandell’s niece, has since launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe for his funeral expenses, which had raised $1,045, as of Thursday afternoon.
“His smile is one that won’t be forgotten. It lit up a room every time he walked in,” Thomas said. “He would do anything for a friend, including a fur friend. Sadly, giving his life to try and save them.”
Rich Sheppie, Crandell’s longtime friend and roommate, was able to exit the apartment and survived the fire. Sheppie was briefly hospitalized afterwards.
“When he came out of the house, he was in such shock he couldn’t speak,” said Sherri Bardascini, a lifelong friend of Sheppie.
Bardascini’s daughter launched a GoFundMe to help Sheppie start over. That campaign had raised $4,365, as of Thursday afternoon.
The fire originated in the porch area on the second floor, before spreading through the upstairs apartment of the two-family home. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Four individuals living in the first-floor apartment were able to leave the building on their own, but have been displaced by the fire. Five dogs and two cats were killed.
While Crandell had many friends, Bardascini said he and Sheppie were like brothers. She had long referred to the polar opposite men as “The Odd Couple.”
“They loved each other … They took care of each other,” Bardascini said. “Dave has always been a part of Richie’s life, they’ve always lived together.”
Crandell was a significant figure in the lives of his younger relatives, according to Thomas.
“My Uncle Dave was a very good man who knew how to live. He’s worked hard all his life and has played such a big part in raising my siblings and I, Especially my brother, Dylan,” she said.
Crandell was a father figure to his nephew and the pair were inseparable.
“He taught him everything he needed for this life and I loved seeing every part of it. He really showed us what love is and means,” Thomas said. “I’m proud to call him my uncle.”
Now, Thomas and her brother are committed to honoring Crandell’s final wishes.
“My uncle was adamant on being buried and not cremated, and Dylan and I need help making that wish happen,” Thomas said.
Sheppie is still struggling to process the tragic event, according to Bardascini.
At the same time, Sheppie lost all of his belongings in the fire, as well as beloved pets. He has been staying with relatives in the days since.
“It’s just a sad situation all the way around,” Bardascini said. “Everything is gone in the blink of an eye and we’ve got to try to pick up the pieces for him.”
In the past, Sheppie volunteered to assist with city events, including farmers markets and Spring Fling. He also helped organize benefits to support local fire victims.
“Richie is a big teddy bear,” Bardascini said. “He is just a big fun loving guy who will give you the shirt off his back and now he needs us.”
Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.