Four months after Desi Deschaine died accidentally in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, more than 200 relatives and friends gathered in Saint Patrick’s Church, on a slightly overcast afternoon, to celebrate his life.
Rev. Msgr. Salvatore A. Criscuolo greeted the celebrants and began a one-hour service, which was organized by Lee Brian Reba from Council Chair Vincent Gray’s office and Jeff Coudriet from Council member Jack Evans’ office. Lending their voices to the service was the D.C. Boys Choir.
A Council ceremonial resolution was presented to Desi’s parents by Evans, for whom Desi worked at the time he died. Evans was surrounded by Council members Gray, Tommy Wells, Jim Graham, Mary Cheh and David Catania. Gray spoke of Deschaine’s dedication to the people of the District of Columbia and to his passion for service. Former Mayor Anthony Williams spoke of how Deschaine worked for his administration, noting that Deschaine was always around with a good word on a tough day. He recalled that whatever he asked Deschaine to do somehow got done.
Former Council Chair Linda Cropp delivered the eulogy and kidded that Deschaine would have loved the picture that was displayed in the front of the church as he looked so slim. She spoke of the warmth of Deschaine’s smile and how he could make anyone feel better by just being around and that he had the capacity to light up a room.
Deschaine was remembered by best friend Neil Alpert, Lee Brian Reba and his cousin Terri Adams who shared anecdotes about Deschaine growing up in Connecticut and stopping by her house on the way home from school to chat. Then Deschaine’s parents, Linda and Philip, and his sister Desiree thanked everyone for being part of Deschaine’s life.
His sister, Desiree, reminded everyone that Deschaine switched from being a Republican in college to a Democrat. She said that when that happened her grandmother, a lifelong Democrat, could finally rest easy.
Among the celebrants at the church were many local ANC members, city officials, and those who worked with Deschaine on all the various causes he cared about. Presenting the colors were the D.C. Fire and EMS Guard. As people left the church a few couldn’t help but remark that the celebration of his life was held in a Catholic church and that were Desi alive today he would be on the front lines fighting for marriage equality in the city.