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HAIL and FAREWELL

This week marks the passage of an era for Friends of Hudson, the City of Hudson and for Columbia County. In just a couple of days Patrick Doyle, Catherine Dodge Smith and their daughter Dodge will begin the physical portion of their journey to their new home in Pennsylvania. Our hopes and good wishes for Catherine, Patrick and Dodge are mingled with our sadness at losing these valued and cherished members of our community.

Patrick and Catherine have been indefatigable in their championship of the City and tireless in their work on behalf of causes that have and will continue to define this place and the lives of those who live here. They have been magnanimous with their time and resources, always delicately and quietly balancing their service with the attention that must be paid to a family's life if it is to remain whole and healthy.

The most obvious of their contributions is the Basilica Industria. The ideas inherent in the enterprise encouraged all of us to dream of what this place might be. Their dreams for it have inspired, nurtured, challenged and entertained us.

The Basilica was the setting for many of the events that shaped and marked our experiences here. Who will ever forget that night in mid-September 2001 when Patrick and Catherine opened the Basilica to a shaken and frightened community and choreographed the moving commemoration and celebration that enabled us to leave that night warmed both by the spectacular bonfire and the caring bonds of our community?

How many times have we turned to the Basilica to mark significant moments and then to think about and communally grapple with the issues?

When Secretary of State Randy Daniels issued the decision that signaled the end of SLC's attempt to build the cement plant here, we marked that occasion with a program at the Basilica where Daniels spoke of his decision and the vision for Hudson's waterfront that we all share. The South Bay Coalition, comprised of regional and local organizations and residents who shared a vision for the South Bay and Hudson waterfront, was born at the Basilica and conducted much of its work there. Patrick, the consummate performer, appointed himself "Sheriff of the South Bay" and he has never abandoned the role as recent events, including the Army corps’ recent interest here, have shown.

When Herbert Dreisietl, the German artist and landscape architect, best known for his innovative work with water, was introduced to a small group of us, Patrick the artist recognized a kindred spirit, with the soul of an artist and the mind of an engineer. The Basilica once again opened its doors to host a community meeting led by Dreisietl which engaged us in a conversation to re-think the Waterfront and how it links the South Bay to the city streets.

And of course there was the memorable Patti Smith concert, a fundraiser for Friends of Hudson held at the Basilica and managed by Patrick. Not only would it have been impossible to host such an event anywhere else in the City, but no other venue could have created the magic atmosphere that so perfectly complemented both cause and the performance.

We will miss the particular blend of creativity and caring that Patrick and Catherine have publicly demonstrated. More though, we will miss the spirit, energy and intelligence that they apply behind the scenes to keep so many of us on the path. No one works harder at uncovering all the inter-connected threads in community issues so that these may be re-woven into a stronger whole. No one is more committed than they. No one is more loyal to those who share their goals. And no one is more willing and able to learn and to revise and refine positions as new information or nuance becomes available.

They have been appreciated and they will be missed. There is no one more grateful than I, personally and on behalf of Friends of Hudson, for the work and the friendship of Catherine and Patrick. They have helped to sustain us all these years and have done so with grace, warmth, humor and smarts.

Ave atque vale...Hail and farewell. The title of Catullus' mournful elegy to his dead brother, has become most familiar in a military context. It is fitting here because as we are gratefully saluting our comrades-in-arms for their passionate service we are also saying goodbye to loved and valued members of our family. May they reap the rewards of their contributions here as they settle into their new home. The State of Pennsylvania doesn't yet know of the gift they are about to receive.