OTTAWA -- The Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre has announced its eponymous founder has died.

In a press release on Friday, the treatment centre said Smith was 87.

"We’re all profoundly sad after hearing the news of Dave’s passing," said Mike Beauchesne, Executive Director of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, in the press release. "Part of what made him so remarkable was his unwavering determination to take action to fix what he saw as severe concerns in the community. The facility that bears his name will serve as a constant reminder of the genuine care and compassion he showed for all of us at the Centre, particularly the youth and families we serve."

Smith founded the treatment centre in 1993, with a goal of helping young people, aged 13 to 21, with substance abuse and mental health issues.

He is also the founder of Nate's Deli, opening his first restaurant in 1959. Ten years later, he launched The Place Next Door steak and seafood restaurant.

Since 2010, the Centre has operated out of an administrative office in Stittsville and two residential facilities: a 14‐bed boys’ campus in Carleton Place, and a 10‐bed girls’ site in Carp.

Beauchesne says the treatment centre has supported more than 17,000 youth and family members with life‐saving addiction, mental health treatment and counselling services.

"Dave Smith cared for everybody, but particularly the young people in our community," said David Kinsman, Chair of the DSYTC Board of Directors, in Friday's release. "He was a visionary and established a facility to help kids with alcohol and substance issues decades before the problem was widely recognized. Every life that was turned around at his facility was the source of great joy for him."

Clients and staff at the three Centre sites will honour Dave in a variety of ways over the coming days and weeks, Beauchesne says. A public memorial will be held at a later date when health restrictions permit it. 

In Smith's obituary, provided to CTV News, his wife Darlene called his legacy "extraordinary."

"Through his charitable works – catering, fundraising, and auctioneering – he helped raise more than $150 million for deserving organizations in Ottawa, elsewhere in Canada, and around the world," Darlene Smith said. "He served on more than 50 different boards of directors for organizations as diverse as the Snowsuit Fund, the Humane Society, and the Military Families Fund, supporting causes from breast cancer to juvenile diabetes to victims’ rights."

His philanthropy brought him face to face with fame, but he remained ever-modest, she said.

"He became something of a rock star, although he’d never characterize his status that way. He cooked for prime ministers, presidents and monarchs. He won over countless hearts with his trademark 'Hey-ohhh' and his infectious belly laugh," she said.

"The walls of our home are covered with framed photographs of David with a veritable who’s who of movie stars, sports heroes, and singers, as well as religious and political leaders from all over the world. Dozens more photographs and posters are on the floor and leaning against the walls for lack of space."

Smith said her husband's list of honours is long and she named but a few.

"His impact on the local community has been recognized through three separate 'Dave Smith Days' – the first in 1996, the second in 2018 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Youth Treatment Centre and again in 2019. There is a street named after him. He was bestowed an Honorary Law Degree from Carleton University and an Honorary Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Ottawa. The recipient of the United Way Community Builder of the Year, he was also an honorary colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces."

Smith was also a Member of both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.

"David loved people. He loved helping people. Gifted with a servant’s heart, his good works are everywhere in the city. And as much as he accomplished – with the unconditional support of thousands of volunteers over the decades – he always felt there was so much left to do," Darlene Smith said. 

"At the top of that 'to do' list was the construction of a new residential treatment facility to better serve the vulnerable young people who continue to reach out for help from the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. He championed a grand vision to bring together the three existing sites into one purpose-built complex that would expand the number of available beds, reduce wait times, and bring all of the dedicated addiction councillors and healthcare professionals under one roof.

"The first phase of the project was officially completed earlier this year. Even in the final days of his life, David pursued his relentless campaign to raise the remaining funds to see the new centre built. He would say that the inspiration for these tireless efforts came from the youth themselves and their remarkable ability to face challenges that would be unimaginable to most of us, to stare them down, to reach out for help, and to turn their lives around," said Darlene Smith.

"While David may be gone, his presence is felt every day: through the determined recoveries of courageous youth and the miraculous work of staff and volunteers at the youth treatment centre that bears his name."