Eulogy for James P. Doody
Delivered by James P. Doody, Jr.
Immaculate Conception Church
Monday, April 14, 2003
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I
believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” When
reflecting upon our father’s life, all of his interests and accomplishments have been driven by his innate calling and
desire to make a difference. No matter his role in life, whether husband, father,
grandfather, son, brother, friend or politician, his devotion and commitment to each was immeasurable.
Back in 1963, our father attended a St. Nicholas of Tolentine dance hoping to find a
date for his junior prom. Little did he know (or perhaps he did), that he would
leave that night having met his future wife. Only five years later, he married his true love, Kathy, and together they built
a relationship and created a life together that we admire and hope to emulate. Their
love, like God’s, is unconditional, and transcends the hassles of raising five children, the stress of politics, the
frustrations and sadness of illness and even the grief of death. My father’s tireless hours of dedication to public service were enhanced by an even greater number
of hours of dedication by our mother to her children and to her husband. My Mom
and Dad are the perfect complement to one another. Our mother’s
devotion to our father is undying, as is his for her.
At the age of 22, our father held his first
child in his arms and, together with our mother, embarked on their greatest challenge and most rewarding journey—raising
five children. They selected a wonderful community and created the perfect home
environment in which we thrived. As adults, we realize that not only did we have
tons of fun and experience so many things growing up, but we learned the values that make life worth living—the values
that our father demonstrated every day of his life—faith, love, charity, honesty…the list goes on. Our happiness, our success and our own young families are a testament to our parents’ most successful
journey—a journey that does not end in death.
While my father always considered his devotion to family as his greatest achievement, everyone also knows of his great
knowledge and love of everything Irish. As children, we knew the words to every Irish song and wouldn’t dare ask to
change the tape in the car. We watched in pride as he played his accordion and
my grandfather his fiddle at countless occasions including our weddings, delighting the crowd every time. His love for Ireland and its rich culture and history is a gift he had received from his own parents and
one that we will be sure to lovingly pass to our children, with the help of his father, Con, and his sister, Mary Jo, who
share this gift.
It was through our Dad’s role
as a public servant and politician that he taught us some of his greatest lessons. We
vividly remember when he was first elected as Town Supervisor. The first Democrat
elected to that position since 1913, he expected the transition to be challenging and it was.
On the day he took office he discovered that the previous administration had left him only a single pencil and empty
filing cabinets but he was, as always, undeterred and rose to meet the challenge, surmounting that and other obstacles to
become one of the most effective and respected public officials in Westchester County.
His devotion to community was not about politics or power; it was about a genuine concern for people.
Our father’s decision to become an attorney was based on that innate desire to help others. His attention to detail, keen memory and analytical skills are the hallmark of a gifted lawyer. He won the respect of so many in the legal community and helped so many clients alleviate the anxieties
of buying a new home or creating a last will and testament. He was a tremendous resource for all who knew him professionally
and personally and his door was always open.
Perhaps his greatest achievement was becoming a grandfather. For the first
time we could remember, the tunes during a car ride didn’t have to be Irish. If
a grandchild were riding with him, you could hear our father singing along to The Wiggles or a Sesame Street song. His gentle demeanor and disposition won them over as he had a special tone of voice reserved for children;
each grandchild saved their biggest greeting for Pop as he came home from the law office.
We watched in admiration as they would sit on his lap for an extended period of time wondering how he did it; his patience
with them was infinite and, no matter how busy, he always gave them his undivided attention and the kids knew it.
Although he is not here with us on earth, we truly believe that he can be visible in all that is beautiful and that
he will always be with us. We know that when we hug our children, his arms will
be right there with ours, giving them that extra squeeze. Or when we look at
our children smile, we’ll see our dad smiling back at us. But most importantly,
we know that he will always be with us because he IS the beat in each of our hearts.
When he died last Thursday, he was surrounded by those who loved him best, and as we watched him take his last breath,
we cried. But, we know that at the same time in heaven there was a crowd, with
his mother in front, waiting and rejoicing. We imagined that he entered heaven
as he did so many Sunday dinners. With a handshake, a hug and a kiss, he said,
“Hi Mom,” and then made himself at home. And knowing our father,
he’ll wait patiently for the day when he and our mother are reunited.
Dad…thank you for everything. You have taught us well. We love you.