He was a godfather to most of my cousins, but not me.
He was a college professor to most of my cousins, but not me.
And I was so jealous that I took his name as my own at Confirmation.
He was everything you could ask for in an uncle. He was there to take me out to dinner when I was poor. His advice was sage and prescient when I was young and shortsighted. And most importantly, he could always make his littlest sister laugh.
I always enjoyed when Aunt Ginger told me about the game they used to play as children pretending to cross the Great Plains. Aunt Ginger was the Indian princess. I'm not sure what the other roles were but Uncle Donald would capture the monotony of their journey by saying "And on and on for days..."
His eulogy for Nanny remains the standard by which all others should strive.
As he summed up, God is good, God is good, God is good...
He was Uncle Donald to all our friends and they felt comfortable to call him that to his face which he loved. He was always in great shape, a swimmer and a walker/jogger. He had one of the great laughs, booming. It would explode in a room and often change a wake or funeral in seconds with it roaring across the room. He got a kick out of his sister's kids and extended family and found your good qualities easily and and spoke often about them. He was actually revered by his family and returned the feelings back to them. He was so powerful to them that if he told them his feelings about something they were famously opposed to, they would flip to his view overnight.
He was just plain good. Never heard an unkind word from him, never knew someone who worked with him to feel anything except love and admiration for him. He was so admired that I could walk the halls of Rice HS without feel of getting whacked with a paddle like my buddies got often. No brother wanted to the guy who whacked Br Dwyer's nephew. And I had it coming. So thanks for that.
He was a fisherman, a real fisherman, someone who could fish all day and catch nothing and be happy but he was an angler who knew how to catch the hardest to catch fish. He was able to make the best of it often with a sip or two of high end bourbons, ryes and scotches. He loved his sips. I never met anyone who was mistreated by him. He said the brothers had a rep for being quite brutal with the students but he wanted to be one and I'm sure he was an example of restraint. His students loved him and his peers I'm sure emulated him.
He had a powerful faith but did not need to force it on you. He spoke respectfully of other religions and enjoyed many of the rituals they embraced. He told me he loved the Catholic religion because it had a lot of pizzazz. He love all the pomp and ceremony. He love the robes and bells and whistles and the incense and the beautiful churches and cathedrals. He was about change to make the church better and was a free thinker. He moved up to Deputy Provincial twice and told me he did not want the job either time but did his duty. He told me often that the Deputy Provincial was higher than the Provincial, that wasn't true and I loved that he pulled my leg on that one for years. He respected what your opinions were even when they went against his most cherished beliefs.
He wanted you to be yourself. He was a fan of yours as you were. You didn't need to be perfect. He loved your company and loved to show you off at dinner with the brothers. He loved loved loved the company of the Christian Brothers and said they were the finest men on the planet.
He introduced me to my favorite food and drink. Sushi and Sake which I hated when he took me and whined like a baby but he just laughed but wouldn't let me order chicken.
He had terrible Alzheimer's but remembered my bald head every time he saw me coming. Hello John would be the standard greeting. We watched his auto biography more times than I can remember sometimes twice during an overnight during his hospital visits.
I saw his human side, his fear in the hospital. Wrestled him from pulling out his tubes and hearing him question everything when he thought he was dying from his heart attack and seeing him put his world back together even stronger. He said he was a great gambler, he told me that his gamble was not with money but with his religion. He laughed that if he was right he was going to hit the jackpot when he went off to heaven.
He had 5 masters degrees and would have to struggle to remember what they were in and where he got them. He was a pretty easy A at least for me who didn't deserve one. His class was packed with kids who loved him and knew he didn't sweat the small stuff and you could question anything.
My mother was crazy sick for him. Just adored him. That could be said by any one of us no matter who our mothers were. My father was crazy for him too. That was really nice to see.
He loved to read, always with a book out and very eclectic topics. When his eyes went really bad before he got them fixed he would read with one eye holding his glasses like a monocle and wincing in pain. He could not stop.
I will remember his booming laugh, his love of reading and learning and teaching, his devotion to his family and his love of religion. He was a really nice guy, we loved him and he loved us. He made a difference.
Br Dwyer was more than Uncle Donald to me. He, by example, showed me everything I needed to be a better human being! He did not take ~ he gave. He knew intuitively what was missing in a person's life and filled the void in word and deed. I lost a mentor and father figure but heaven gained a pure soul. I will carry him in my heart and continue his quest for peace and justice. I will say a quick prayer in his memory each time I sit down to enjoy a good book. If I close my eyes, I can see my mother greeting him in heaven with the same exuberance she did on earth. You live on in me and all those who loved you. Thank you Uncle Donald for making me always want to be as good as you! Thank You ~ bless over my children, Brendan and Ali and let your faith shine in them.
I remember Brother Dwyer from my own brief time in the Brothers. Kind, witty, not enough superlatives. Brother and my father went to Cardinal Hayes together. May God rest his soul.
A true Christian, a wonderful brother-in-law and a marvelous teacher. He was true to his religious congregation beliefs and lived in accordance with them. He loved the peace of fishing and missed that after his health failed. He read everything he could and was open to discuss any subject. He will be missed.
Uncle Donald personified peace, justice and principle. He taught us that the most important tenet of our religion is to respect and stand up for the poor and less fortunate. As a child, I was quite sure he was Santa Claus, with his white beard, tall stature and loud belly laugh. While he chose a life of poverty, he lived very richly. He always used his stipends to share a meal with someone. Lunches at Kennedys. Dinners in New Rochelle.. "Italian, Chinese or Jewish Deli?" I can still hear him say with passion for each choice. While he sacrificed many of life's pleasures, he was a man who took great pleasure in life; learning, food, travel... and the occasional speed down the highway. One of my most cherished gifts was the stuffed bear he gave to me on my Communion. It was probably the simplest gift I recevied that day, but the most meaningful. I'm sure my mom, and my Aunts are welcoming their big brother with open arms. Rest in peace dear Godfather.