Monday, January 29, 2007

Dick Doran - A Fitting Farewell

You know something special is happening when everybody who's anybody in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia politics, commerce and the arts comes together as one to mourn the death of a colleague and friend.

And so it was last night and today as hundreds gathered to celebrate the rich, diverse life and distinguished career of Dick Doran.

There were no clashing agendas, no ego trips or power plays. Not even the time-honored jockeying for position was in evidence. Instead there was simply a communal sense of genuine loss. And a shared desire to honor an extraordinary man.

Governor Ed Rendell waiting patiently in line like everybody else to pay his respects to Dick's wife and sons. As did former Mayor Wilson Goode, Reps Chakah Fattah and Bob Brady. US Senator Bob Casey, Jr. slipped in and out without fanfare.

Newly minted US Congressman Patrick Murphy greeted the family, then stood diffidently off to the side with his wife and two-month-old-daughter, chatting quietly with a few friends.

The line was out the door and they kept coming. State Senator Vince Fumo, Councilman Jim Kenney, Council President Anna Verna, DA Lynn Abraham. Board members from The Curtis Institute of Music, the Academy of Music, Blue Cross. A plethora of influential lawyers, movers and shakers. Dick's childhood friend, actor Henry Gibson. And us ordinary folk, Dick's co-workers, friends, students.

For a night and a day, we were all awash in the disbelief that the vital man who brought so many together was gone so soon. We swapped memories and stories. Shared tears and laughter. Held brief reunions with those we hadn't seen in 15 to 20 years. Heads gray, waistlines widened, faces lined. But still the same inside. And joined by the common thread of Dick Doran.

And what a funeral. As a Jewish girl I haven't attended many Catholic masses. And I doubt many Catholics there had been privileged to hear mass offered by an Archbishop from the Vatican.

Archbishop John Patrick Foley, originally of Darby, PA came from Rome to help lay his lifelong friend to rest. He gave a personal, intimate Homily about growing up and going through college with Dick. He told stories of those years and more recent times that made us laugh. And then his voice broke as he spoke of Dick's sudden death and the collective grief we all shared.

It was a tribute not only from the Church, but directly from the heart of a friend. For all Friends of RAD, I'll link to it here when we get it online.

The other link I'll add will be the Eulogy delivered by former US Congressman and Philadelphia Mayor Bill Green. Dick Doran was instrumental in both his campaigns and administrations as well as being a close friend from college days. Mayor Green offered yet another perspective, equally personal and intimate.

He too spoke of Dick's abiding love for his family. He too made us laugh at some of Dick's more outrageous professional antics and experiences. And he too choked up as he expressed for all of us Dick's contributions to our lives and the enormity of his loss.

At the reception afterwards, groups formed, opened, overlapped as the wide variety of people shared more laughter and special memories of our unique friend Dick. The Harrisburg political crowd sat around a big table in the back near the bar--the most fitting venue--reminding each other of one story after another.

Bill Green, hip and energetic but still old-school and decidedly non tech-oriented, told us of his struggle not only to write Dick's eulogy but to type it and print it on a computer, finally with his wife and son's help. When he sat down, asking rhetorically if he could join us, our answer was typical of the Harrisburg-Philly dynamic, "Sure, welcome to the Cool Kids table."

That's always how you felt around Dick Doran. He made you feel cool. Special. Engaged and involved. Meaningful. Dick meant so much to so many people and institutions. A political operative par excellance. A savvy business and campaign strategist. A patron, fundraiser and sponsor of the arts. A mentor to countless government staffers, politicians and music students. And to all, a loyal and dedicated friend.

But most important--the true core of his strength--Dick was a loving husband to Mary. A devoted father to Richard and Patrick. And a proud, doting grandfather.

Their lives have changed forever with his death. I hope they take comfort in knowing how many lives he changed for the better while he was alive.

Unlike most men, Dick Doran's legacy lies not only within his nuclear family. It will also shine brightly into the future through his extended family of grateful colleagues, students and friends.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dick Doran was a good and decent man. Bill Green was right -- Dick was "Jefferson without the contradictions."

Patrick Mahoney

10:09 PM  

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