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Christopher Doyle, Former Colleague and Friend (1982-2011)

August 07, 2011

Chris Doyle Like many, I was shocked to hear last week that a former Foundation Center employee, Christopher Doyle, had been involved in a fatal bicycling accident in New York City.

I first met Chris at an office holiday party in 2007. At the time, he was working in our Web Services department, helping to redesign or create from scratch various Foundation Center Web pages, blogs (including this one), and portals, including the 2010 Global Philanthropy Forum annual conference site. Although he eventually moved on to freelance full-time for a number of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, before settling down at the New School eight months ago, Chris stayed in close contact with his former colleagues, many of whom he frequently bumped into near Union Square Park or in the lobby/elevator at 79 Fifth Avenue.  

A talented musician, Chris spent much of his free time playing and recording music with friends. The few who had a chance to see him perform at Zebulon in Brooklyn will remember his barefoot drum playing; his free-spirited ways charmed many who knew him. 

There were so many things to love about Chris. But I'll especially remember how much he loved language, whether written and sung. From Bolaño to Mingus, he had an appreciation for artistic expression that was deeply felt and absolutely infectious.

Not having the right words to honor our dear friend, I turn to Charlie Daniels, who wrote this for his friend Ronnie Van Zant (of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd) in 1977:

A brief candle; both ends burning
An endless mile; a bus wheel turning
A friend to share the lonesome times
A handshake and a sip of wine
So say it loud and let it ring
We are all a part of everything
The future, present and the past
Fly on proud bird
You're free at last.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Chris' family during this very difficult time.

(Photo credit: Sarah Foley)

-- Regina Mahone

Comments

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We've lost a kind and thoughtful friend, an intelligent and competent colleague, and a bright and inspirational spirit. Chris had so much potential. This is a sad time, Regina, but it reminds us to express how much we love and appreciate those who are important to us. Chris will continue to be a part of our lives because of the impact he had on us. That can't be taken away.

Chris was a member of my team at the Foundation Center since 2006. He made many significant contributions to our work here, propelling us forward with creative and technical innovation. He was an original thinker, a hard worker, a free spirit, and a friend to everyone. He had a wonderful sense of humor backed by a mischievous smile. I liked him the instant I met him. I could always count on him, and just seeing his face always put a smile on mine. It is painful to know he was taken so harshly and suddenly, but I take comfort in knowing that he made a unique mark on this world and the world is – I am – better for it.

Chris worked with me here at the ACLU just long enough for me to know he was the guy I always wanted to sit next to in our weekly Tuesday online fundraising meeting but not long enough for me to know too much about his life outside of work. I did see him often, morning and evening, un/chaining his bike outside our office building, and I think I knew that he was a fellow Brooklynite.

But just from our shared eight hours a day, I knew that he was talented, dedicated and funny, a stand-up guy always willing to share his skills to help tackle a problem. I'm training a new employee in my department right now and sharing with her code and workarounds that he shared with me more than a year ago, stuff he'd developed on his own to deal with the hot mess that is Convio. There is something gratifying in passing these solutions that Chris worked out on to her.

In the back end of all of our various systems, I still come across his fingerprints, but where before it was just a reminder of a friendly former co-worker, now there is the tinge of bittersweet, knowing that when you go in to fuss with something that says "Last Edit: CDoyle" that the next time you come back to it, it won't say that again. That some small reminder of him will be gone.

Like I said, we weren't super close, never hung out outside the office, but we were friends within these walls. We did help each other out with our shared challenges faced on the floors of 125 Broad Street. And in doing that, we developed a camaraderie. Perhaps that's the best word for what we were: Comrades. Working together to face the threats to civil liberties. Or at least the threats to making sure that our actions looked good on Facebook.

When Chris left the ACLU, his going away was canceled due to a blizzard, and we all said we'd reschedule. As his comrade, I'm sad that we didn't. I'm even sadder that now, that we'll never be able to. I hope, Chris, wherever you may be, that you are raising the glass we never got to. Here's to you, Chris.

I had the pleasure of working with Chris in the web services department here at the Foundation Center from 2006-2008, and we had since remained friends. I'm not really sure what to say that hasn't already been said, but Chris was one of the coolest people I'd ever met. He was so sweet, so smart, and so positive. One of the first projects we worked on together was the PND web site redesign. I agree with the above commenter and have also thought throughout the course of the work day, "Chris implemented this code!" He was a front-end design and production ninja, a talented musician, and I swear he got taller each time I saw him.

We miss you, Chris.

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