I went to a funeral yesterday. For someone I didn't know.
At least not personally.
I had heard stories, lots and lots of stories, so I knew that he was quite a character. Loved fast, expensive cars. Money was no issue - he just had to have them. Loved wining and dining his friends and spoiled them with tickets to The Masters and other extravagances. Spontaneous, often unpredictable, known for his over the top shenanigans. That's the picture that had formed in my head from the stories I had heard.
Then I went to the funeral.
It was held at Ridley College. Standing room only. There was a shuttle bus to help get people from the distant parking lots to the chapel. As I was introduced to people, I began to understand how very narrow my view of this man had been.
As I listened to the three eulogies, I began to wish that I had had the opportunity to meet this man.
The first speaker had us in stitches as he spoke of the rebellious, brilliant, passionate young man who grew into a powerful, generous man of extremely high ethical standards. The second speaker spoke of a friendship that spanned decades and shaped lives. The third speaker, a notoriously cynical man, was reduced to tears as he spoke of the integrity, quality and commitment that this man inspired in others.
It was obvious by the end that every resident of St. Catharines has been affected by this man, whether they knew it or not.
I never met Henry Bartlett Burgoyne. But I wish I had.