DERRY — With a simple wave and a big smile, Robert Young touched more people in a day’s time than he ever realized.
The Derry man is being remembered this week by friends and strangers as someone who made it a daily ritual to wave to passing cars while sitting outside his Chester Road home.
Young, 75, died Saturday after being struck by an SUV in the parking lot at Your Variety in Chester.
The driver, Karen Sheley of Chester, had her GMC Yukon in reverse, according to police reports, and saw Young walking toward the store.
She attempted to brake, but hit the accelerator instead, pinning Young against a large ice cooler outside the store.
Young was later pronounced dead at Elliot Hospital.
The N.H. State Police Technical Accident Reconstruction Unit is investigating the accident.
Chester police Chief William Burke said the county attorney’s office would decide whether charges would be filed against Sheley.
Memorial messages and flowers began appearing at Young’s home almost immediately after his death.
Many people never knew Young’s name, but looked forward to his wave as they passed by.
Martha Stavrou was one of those people.
“I am only one of probably hundreds, maybe thousands of people he touched,” she said. “Everyone is talking about him and what a loss we will all share.”
Kevin Reid stopped at Young’s home with his 10-year-old daughter Kayla to pay his respects.
Reid saw Young wave every day, but never stopped to introduce himself.
“I always wanted to, but I never did,” he said.
Jenna DiCarlo also stopped to leave a bouquet of flowers.
“We had to,” she said. “Every day we passed by, he waved.”
Chris Gerossie said she couldn’t believe Young was gone. Her children looked forward to driving by the house to see the “waving man.”
“He made me smile every day,” Gerossie said.
Young’s history in Derry spanned more than four decades. He lived in the converted barn-style house and cultivated a 2-acre haven of exotic lilies, grasses and peonies that he would sell along the road.
People would stop to chat with him about his gardens.
Young was well versed in many subjects, a friend said. He was also a talented metal artist and displayed his artwork outside his home.
He never drove and depended on friends to take him on errands.
Rita Olszewski said her friend of 30 years had a zest for life and wanted to share his interests with as many people as possible. Just a simple conversation about a certain flower could generate an amazing amount of information, she said.
“I learned some good lessons from him,” Olszewski said. “He was amazing to talk to and he loved to laugh. It gave him that spark.”
The two shared a love of flowers and gardens. Olszewski said many of Young’s flowers grow at her Chester home.
She said Young wanted to make people happy and enjoy life.
“He lived the way we all should live,” she said. “There was a lot of wisdom in that house.”
Stavrou said she wished she had stopped to meet Young.
“We will all remember him for a long time,” she said. “For me, he gave me happiness with every smile and wave.”