Memories of Mr. Boyle
Dee and Jim Girillo, former friend and colleague:
The death of Dick Boyle was a shock. It came so unexpectedly and so quickly. A month ago, he and Meg were walking through Disney World with their granddaughter Eve who was playing there with her Hewlett School Band. He seemed tired to Meg, but he drove back to Norwood, participated in the Kiwanas Community Clean-up project, ran for a shorter period than usual, went to the doctor to check for sun damage, bought a new car for Meg, put money in the bank and, finally, agreed to go with Meg to the doctor and the hospital. There, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. The chemo was too much for his body. With Meg and Kelly and Annie holding him, he died on Sunday, May 11. Michael, grandchildren, relatives and friends hurried to be there.
Dick Boyle was an exemplary teacher for 35 years in Port Washington where he was respected and loved by colleagues and students. Although he loved teaching, he retired at 56 to go back to the Northcountry on the border of Canada where Meg and he had maintained their roots. His life and death were celebrated in a large, welcoming church where the men of the Norwood Fire Department band stood at honor guard outside with flag and axes and played hymns with a Dixieland flavor. .
The priest called Dick a man of grace, a graceful man with a warming smile. He told of all Dick had contributed to the community and that Dick believed in education so much that he had helped many Norwood students with math. He talked about Dick's love for his family, his many interests and his desire to continue to learn. The priest had been with Dick at St. Lawrence College for Tom Brokaw's lecture. He had visited him in the hospital and said that, even there, in his frail condition, Dick had reached out to an ornery old lady, who irritated everybody, by going to chat with her and had given the woman his flowers. He said that Dick told him he had no regrets. The priest felt we now had someone who could pray for us, something expressed by Michael who said he always felt his dad was a secret monk who loved life and was a model for everyone..
That a funeral could be a celebration of life had always seemed impossible, but each of his ten young grandchildren carried to the altar things that had mattered to Dick, the basketball signed by his teacher teammates when he left Port, the trumpet he played, his lesson plan book, the lunchbox he carried to Schreiber, lilacs from the home he loved, and model train. During the sermon, the priest called attention to the train whistle that was blowing as it passed next to the church saying " Dick would have been delighted."
The words and actions of Kelly, Annie, Meg, and the family members were memorable. The recessional hymn " Ode to Joy " was played on the horn by Annie. The sound of the hymns and band music made Dick's presence real. The priest praised Meg for having created a liturgy of such dignity, joy, and love. Her pastoral training helped her sustain the grief of those who came to mourn and to refocus their thoughts on her husband's happy life.
The weather cleared and warmed that day to 81 degrees. At the graveside, there were some mosquitos and it was hot, but as the brass band began to play taps, the wind changed suddenly, as it can do in Maine or Northern New York. It blew from the north to lift the folds of the flag and freshen the air until the last note was played. It was another "Boyle moment" that helped lift spirits when most needed. .
Thoughts from Dee & Jim Girillo
Monday, May 19, 2008