Jim Furlong: Remembering A Gentleman

I didn’t know Larry Dohey well but our paths did cross given the nature of our interests and work. A couple of times I spoke with him over the course of his time at the Basilica and later when he was archivist at The Rooms. We weren’t friends but rather ‘ships that passed in the night.’ We worked in similar fields. 

I was an amateur and a storyteller rather than an historian. Larry Dohey was an historian and an archivist and was all; professional. He was also a real gentlemen who on an important day was kind to me. The best way I can show you this is by way of a first person encounter.

Strengths & weaknesses

Years ago I had occasion to be part of a meeting that had been put together with several government agencies where I was attempting to put together an archives preservation package involving NTV. Several levels of government were represented there by different agencies and departments. 

Memorial University, through its Digital Archives Initiative, was part of it and Larry Dohey was there for The Rooms. Lindsey Andrews, who was the NTV production manager at the time, and myself represented NTV. Larry Dohey sat next to me in the board room. It was a meeting put together specifically for NTV. We made our case outlining our needs chapter and verse. 

We all have strengths and weaknesses and keeping records and notes is certainly not one of mine. My presentation to the group was fine but my ‘notes’ on the proceedings were not. 

I had a couple of sheets of paper with a lot of doodles and five or six copies of my own signature. In those days a scrap of paper and pencil were usually my stock in trade at meetings.

The meeting lasted a couple of hours and went well. Larry Dohey had been quiet during the proceedings but paid attention to what was being said by everybody. The NTV archives were of great interest to him. As it turns out he saw how I handled the meeting. 

That night I received a phone call at home. It was Larry Dohey. He said he had listened carefully at the meeting but he told me, in an understatement, that he had noticed that I didn’t take particularly good notes. Larry said that in dealing with government and its agencies a record of ‘who said what’ was important. 

An amazing thing 

Then he did an amazing thing. He offered to send over to me a copy of his own notes so I could flesh out what I had scribbled down. That he did the next day. He didn’t really know me well. We went to the same church and we had similar interests in matters related to the past but that was really the only connection. Still he went out of his way to help me by giving me access to his own work.

A final thought about Larry. Of all the people who I have met Larry Dohey, apart from being a gentleman, understood better than anyone exactly who we are as a people. His fingers were right on the pulse of historic Newfoundland.

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