I first met Dana Doyle almost 10 years ago at a Prince Street Home & School meeting; she was one of a new wave of parents breathing new life into the group, and she emerged as someone always ready to volunteer to pop the popcorn, or make the hotdogs, or to find sponsors for our silent auction at the yearly Spring Fling.
I remember one time, when Oliver was in grade 6, when Dana wasn’t available to pop the popcorn in advance of movie night, and so I stepped into the breach.
A few days before, she gave me a lesson in running the popcorn machine, how much popcorn to make, and how much time to set aside for the popping. She suggested that I come into the school mid-afternoon to get a jump on the popping, as it took a long time, advice that I quickly ignored; there’s no way it could take that long, I said to myself. Which is how I found myself popping furiously to fill my quota as the clock ticked ever-nearer to movie start time and I realized that Dana had been right.
This escapade gave me one small window into the number of hours that Dana poured into supporting the school community, hours mostly unseen by others.
Over the intervening years I came to know Dana as a friend and neighbour–she lived right on my route to and from Birchwood Intermediate School and I would often run into her on my way back from walking Oliver to school–and as a school crossing guard on Walthen Drive, a job she took seriously but with the kind of good humour and rapport with kids that made her daily charges grow very fond of her.
When Dana was nominated by the Home & School at Prince Street for the School Crossing Guard of the Year award last year, and my fellow directors selected her from the many nominations to receive the award (being a friend, I recused myself), I was overjoyed, as there was nobody that deserved the award more. It was an extra special joy to be asked to present it to her last June; it was a complete surprise to her, and I will never forget the look on her face as she walked into the Prince Street School gym to be greeted by the entire school community.
Dana continued to be involved with Home & School as her son Seth moved from Prince Street to Birchwood and on to Colonel Gray this year for high school; I was happy to see her at the first Colonel Gray Home & School meeting of the year last fall, and I looked forward to the chance to work with her again, now that our boys were both in high school.
Dana died unexpectedly last week, and her funeral was today; the large attendance from family, friends, neighbours, coworkers, and members of three school communities was a testament to the rich life Dana lived and the many connections she made.
She will be missed.