I have always liked people who liked funeral service, and after a 42-year career, I really like friends and associates who have been an inspiration and role model for me in my personal journey. Mr. John Doyle of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, is certainly one of those individuals.
John and I have been buddys for many years and this weekend there was a retirement party held for John at a beautiful lake pavilion in a gorgeous park right outside of Saint John. I was honored to be asked to be the “surprise” guest to offer the testimonial after the formal dinner in recognition of John’s stellar career.
John and I basically started in funeral service about the same time. Here and there, now and then, every so often I have encountered individuals in funeral service who are shining lights in my spirit and soul, and without question John Doyle has been one of those people.
As I watched the events of that grand party take form I was struck by the genuine love and admiration that the group assembled had for John. It was a well deserved honor and I was humbled to be asked to participate. I have had a few moments in my life and career where I was humbled to the core, but few if any matched my feelings when I got the call to give the formal testimonial for John’s career and his basic view of life.
The night was resplendent with sentiment, with glad tidings, with old-fashioned panache. Several people spoke and one young lady who John had mentored welled up and had to work hard to complete expressing her deep gratitude to John and his guidance and mentorship in her young career – and young she was, she started out in funeral service in 2001. However young, she possesses a spirit and attitude which is very attractive and she gave John Doyle due credit for instilling this depth of professionalism in her person.
John Doyle is not an agitator, he does not criticize, nor does he tear down. On the contrary he is a supporter (even in the face of bad tidings), he always builds, and he builds through service which reflects his genuine love of funeral service, and he does not make criticisms – basically he just tends to his families and the funeral home.
Funeral service for John was not a business, it was a ministry in his life, and he was very good at what he did.
I well remember one evening very late I was in Montreal doing a seminar and around midnight I ended up walking over to the Basilica to marvel at the beautiful sanctuary. There sitting on the steps of the church was John Doyle, and he and I talked the night away and felt at the end of our conversation that we had solved every problem and challenge facing our beloved profession – of course that was not true, but for a fleeting moment we believed we had accomplished that impossible task.
I will never be as nice a person as John Doyle is. Never. I try, but always fall short of the mark. John is a consummate gentleman and a true friend, which is a rare thing these days.
I wish my good buddy the best and I know that his family is mighty happy to have him available to move on into the next venture in his life journey.
There are fortunately thousands of people in our profession with the spirit of John Doyle, and that is a true blessing. I have a dream that John Doyle will in his retirement become a adjunct professor in some mortuary science program and the students would not be allowed to talk – they would just be required to listen to the master instruct, inspire, and inform them of what great possibilities a career in funeral service truly has.
It was a wonderful trip and event. Good luck, my good friend. TVB