David Manning Haney of Oak Bluffs and Newton died June 9 in Needham, 13 months after the death of his mother Anne Haney. He was 54.

David was special. What his family knew was just that. Conventional success was, despite his intelligence, very difficult for him, but he was also special in the openness with which he met new people and how he would talk to strangers and regard them as friends.

David loved to read, particularly Shakespeare’s plays and Horatio Hornblower adventures. He loved puns and thrilled at movies and the theatre. As a boy, he could rub the bellies of toads until they slept and then carry them thus on the backs of his protruding ears. That is not a skill often called for in the workplace, nor is it one likely to serve in many social environments. It was David, though. Uniquely, gently, purely David.

He enjoyed playing chess and cooking. He liked listening to the same two or three songs over and over again while dancing in big loping bounds across the front rooms of his parents’ house. He loved his friends Joan Patton and Paul Kiley through the decades after high school. He was more than a little surprised, and more than a little bit pleased, when Mr. Kiley became family through his partnership with David’s sister, what with never having thought to introduce them. Introductions of close friends to close family members is, apparently, what the internet is for.

David lost a few years to the love of the game Dungeons and Dragons, a game none of his family understood, but which could hold his interest for hours as he cast the die and filled sheets with calculations of spells and weaponry. He lost much more to alcoholism. That isn’t talked about that much, and in popular culture we often see the disease’s devastation minimized.

David was a sweet, loving, generous man. He was also volatile and impetuous, and he was a romantic, given to the presentation of single red roses and fervent wishes to help people, both close to him and around the world. He lacked practical skills, but no desire to do good. He wanted to come to the rescue, save the maiden in distress — or whole schools of maidens; in his last years he often obsessed on the desire to open a school in Cambodia for girls. He wanted to wear a cape and be known as a superhero, somebody’s superhero, anybody’s superhero. Instead, he was diagnosed with end stage cirrhosis of the liver at just 42.

Alcohol did that. It derailed so much goodness.

His family hopes that by telling David’s story with honesty and humility that perhaps someone can be helped.

Don’t you forget about me . . . . as you walk on by, will you call my name?

That was the song David danced to most frequently. His world was small, and in recent years his illness made it progressively smaller. Not many knew his name, but he won’t be forgotten. He was so very loved. Just because being a toad whisperer is not lucrative does not mean it is not a valid calling.

The world needs toad whisperers.

He is survived by his father James Haney, sister Sarah Menchu and her partner Paul Kiley, nephew Charles (Adi) Uchendu, and niece Maggie Menchu of Oak Bluffs and Newton; and his sister Kate, brother in law Peter, and nephew Teddy Haney of Longmeadow.