Stay Gold

Eulogy for a friend

Lawrence Joseph “Doobie” Nowlan Jr. / January 11, 1965 – July 30, 2013

– – –

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I memorized that poem for a lit class as a college freshman the same year that I met an amazing person.

Almost thirty years ago to this day, in 1983, I first met Doobie Nowlan, a wild kid from Philadelphia. I watched him change a lot of different shades of gold over the decades but I will never forget the green adventures of our youth.

We did have a lot of adventures as friends and roommates in college, and some after as well, but it’s the little personal exchanges I’ll really miss recollecting with him. They were things only he and I knew, small things… stupid things.


Once upon a time, Doobie and I sat in our dilapidated little apartment watching Monday Night Football enjoying a few Diet Pepsis as we would from time to time. No one could say we didn’t thoroughly enjoy our college years.

So, we were on the couch in total darkness except for the light coming from a small television. Some time in the first quarter Doobie decides he’s hungry and goes into the kitchen coming back moments later to inform me that he’s preparing a baked potato.

Four quarters later our other roommate- who had been at the library studying- came through the front door, hustled past us into the kitchen. He flipped on a light, opened up the oven and a black cloud poured into the apartment and revealed the shriveled up, hardened and smoking little black spud.

With the screamed, “Are you geniuses trying to burn the place down?” still echoing throughout the entire apartment complex, Doobie turned to me and whispered wide-eyed, “Ooo, how’s my baked potato?”

Between us we had hundreds of moments like that. Stories that, recalled years later, would never fail to elicit laughter and transport us right back to a time and place.

Later, I worked with Doobie in what amounted to an advertising sweatshop and I was inspired to reinvent myself when he started working on his Masters degree. He continued to inspire and support me and my work as we both grew and evolved until I had created an advertising agency good enough to help promote Doobie and his work.

In 2011, I was fortunate to be a part of the team that helped Doobie get his amazing Harry Kalas memorial installed in the Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizen’s Bank Park and even luckier to be able to introduce the artist on the day that statue was dedicated.

After I introduced Doobie on national television and in front of 40,000 focused fans we exchanged places at the podium. We shook hands and looked at one another, our eyes communicating that we both understood the gravity of the situation. At that moment he put his mouth up to my ear and whispered, “How’s my baked potato?”

In one way or another we talked nearly every day and I am going to miss him a lot. I know we all are. He was a great human being.

August 4, 2013

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