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Remembering Jerry Doyle

Dennis Rayburn remembers an actor who fans loved, and who loved the fans

doyle072916 Geekdom

“Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine”
– Mac Davis

Since the terrible news broke of the sudden death of Jerry Doyle, my mind has been turning some of the pages of memory back to the times I had the honor and pleasure of meeting him. Over the years, I quickly learned that every individual is unique in their own ways, and believe me, Jerry Doyle was no exception.

My first memories of Jerry were from Shore Leave in Maryland. We had arrived at the autograph line where he was signing, but we came up short time-wise. I had to go sit down due to a knee injury, leaving Jill there trying to get a print of a painting of the cast of “Babylon 5” signed by him.

When the line closed, she asked him when he would be signing again. He quickly told her he’d happily sign it right then, and commented on the number of cast members we had obtained signatures from on it. Now the guy had been signing all afternoon, but he was willing to do because she asked him so nicely.

The next day, he appeared at his final session with fans, constantly joking about Bruce Boxleitner, busting on him for turning in so early, while he was up and partying. He quickly noted that he was going to have to come back to Shore Leave, as “you folks know how to party!”

The pages now turn to DragonCon a few years later. He was there, signing at a table, chatting with folks. We got into a discussion about some political topics, and while we didn’t agree on the topics, I came away knowing I had been discussing things with a logical and learned man. I also found out about his sense of humor as we traded a few good ones before we parted.

However, the best story about Jerry Doyle, the man, is not one involving me but one that I was told. It was the Shore Leave I wrote about above. Jerry had gone out to the pool where it was just him and a couple with a child who was playing in the pool. Before the little one knew it, he had a playmate in the water with him … Jerry.

The couple told how Jerry would disappear in the water and reappear to the little one’s delight. Now there was a guy with a whole hotel of folks who came to see him, taking time that was his to relax, and what does he do? He takes time to have some fun with a youngster.

Jerry was opinionated, passionate about his work, and a very entertaining fellow to meet, and to hear speak. It almost seemed like all he needed was a crowd and he was ready to go. I know I enjoyed the couple of times I got to chat with him. There was a lot of knowledge in that head of his, and I greatly appreciated getting to hear some of it.

Sadly, he has now gone beyond the rim. It is heartbreaking that we will never see his smile, hear his laughter, or his voice, which is now stilled. This is the part about getting old I truly hate, having to lose so many we love, respect and admire to the Grim Reaper.

In a statement, J. Michael Straczynski noted that of the “Babylon 5″ cast, we have lost Richard Biggs, Michael O’Hare, Andreas Katsulas, Jeff Conaway, and now Jerry Doyle.

“So dear sweet universe, if you are paying attention in the vastness of interstellar space,” Straczynski wrote, “take a moment from plotting the trajectory of comets and designing new DNA in far-flung cosmos, and spare a thought for those who you have plucked so untimely from our ranks … and knock it off for a while.

“Because this isn’t fair.

“And Jerry Doyle would be the first person to tell you that. Right before he put a fist in your face. Which is what I imagine he’s doing right now, on the other side of the veil.”

I could not agree with you more, sir!

Rest in peace, Jerry. Please do us one favor, and let Richard, Michael, Andreas, and Jeff know we miss them. We’ll miss you too!

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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