Daniel Harwood

Daniel Harwood

His life was lessons taught.

Daniel was an amazing young man with a passion for life, family and friends. He was kind, adventurous and loving; he drew people in. He set out every day to make a difference to someone, yet he never fully understood how much impact he had on the lives of others.

He made an enormous difference in the life of his mother when she had extensive surgery because of breast cancer. Daniel took a break from college to care for her. He danced, sang, told stories and made her laugh. He wrote her notes telling her she was beautiful and gave her a card with money to get her hair done and buy a new outfit. He would tease her by rubbing his whiskers on her face, mildly annoying at the time, but a fond memory his mother now holds.

Daniel liked going to festivals and dancing, though he wasn’t great at it. He loved technology, volunteering and enjoyed helping people in any way he could. He was a good at writing poetry and had hopes of publishing a book of his poems.

Daniel attended Kent State University majoring in business management, but had also spent time in prison because of his addiction. Since he had difficulty landing a job, he started his own construction and contracting company building and renovating homes. As it grew, he provided jobs to people who would otherwise be denied employment. Some, like him, had substance use issues; others had disabilities or were homeless. He had an equal passion for the work and for helping people to do better. Even when in addiction he maintained his company, his responsibilities and relationships.

One of many remarkable stories from Daniel’s memorial service was told by a man who was holding a sign on the side of a road. Daniel stopped with food and talked with him. That simple act of kindness led to the man “watching” Daniel’s properties, by staying in them and learning various skills while around the construction sites. Over time, the man became a full time employee, no longer homeless.

Daniel’s goals included growing his business to better serve his community and provide employment to those who were marginalized. Once established, he planned to get married, become a father, travel and enjoy life. He also intended to build a home for his mother. He was substance free the last two years of his life, but at a party one evening he used again and overdosed.

During Daniel’s active addiction, it was hard for his mom to watch him destroy himself. “You spend their entire life protecting them, and in walks this monster called addiction,” his mom said. ‘In a short time you find yourself fighting an enemy you can’t defeat, so you love them and walk beside them through the battle.’ She spent several years fearful of losing Daniel and looking for help. She had one goal; to keep him alive. Now she spends her days educating people about addiction and trying to get them help. “I have to make a choice every day to get up and face my new reality. Daniel’s addiction is still a powerful presence in my life.”

Daniel’s mother, Stephanie Purnell, provided the information for this narrative.

June 4, 1992- May 1, 2016

Age 24- Lived with addiction 10 years

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