I can recall listening to my favorite song near Christmas of 1965, when “In My Life” was released by the Beatles on Capitol records.
I always identified with the lyrics and the emotions, which were twofold for me: sadness regarding people who had once been a part of my life but had passed on, and joy concerning the people who had touched my life in such a positive manner and made that experience all the richer. I was deeply touched when my daughter Julia selected “In My Life” as the song we danced to when she married a few years ago. Oddly enough, I have also requested that “In My Life” should be my exit song at my funeral. Good Lord willing that won’t be for a few more years.
When I was asked to write a retirement piece about my March 31 departure from Mission Services, I knew immediately what I would call the column and what I would write about. I had written a feature for the paper two years ago entitled “Winning The Race,” about turning 60 and enjoying attaining this milestone. Public feedback on that article generated more calls and emails than anything else I had ever written.
As I enter the next phase of my earthly journey — retirement — I look back with great fondness at the people and circumstances that shaped me during my work life and allowed me such a joyous journey. I can honestly say I can look back and not have any regrets. I have been truly blessed.
I had a memorable 20-year career in radio, concluding at CHML, when you could actually play the records you personally enjoyed on the air and say whatever you wanted. It was great fun and getting paid for a four-hour air shift seemed a bonus. I have to acknowledge that my role at CHML opened so many doors for me in Hamilton and played a key role for any success I many have achieved in this community.
Once I left radio for the non-profit world, I had the privilege of staying in contact with all my media colleagues as I filled a number of senior communication roles with respected human service agencies, such as Amity Goodwill and Mission Services of Hamilton. The past 11 years at Mission Services has been the ideal scenario for wrapping up my formal working life. It has been the most fulfilling place that I have had the pleasure to work at. As a bonus, I also had the pleasure of teaching marketing at Sheridan College for six memorable years. I loved it when the students called me “Professor.” That’s when I entered my tweed sports-jacket phase in fashion.
I recall coming to Hamilton from Milton to host the all night show at CHML, which was the big leagues for me. I recall bringing muffins and coffee to morning personality Bob Bratina, who always treated me kindly even though the all-night-man was considered the lowest of the low. The transition from small, rural Milton to Hamilton was a challenge for me. But the uniqueness of Hamiltonians pulled me in and made the city home for my family and me.
In my working life I have been fortunate to work with some of the best in their respective fields.
Michael Caine, president of CHWO in Oakville, who rescued me from CFCO in Chatham and brought me back to my hometown roots in Brampton.
Don Luzzi, President of CHML who taught me to make espresso and advised, “If you can’t do it first class don’t do it at all.” Or the president of Amity Goodwill, Doug Wallace, who said:
“Always put people ahead of profit.”
A legion of public-relations professionals such as Cynthia Jenson, Denise Dickie and Jane Alision all played a role in my success by illustrating the value of professional media relations.
In looking back however, I would not have had the success I have achieved in my working career were it not for the good fortune of marrying my high school sweetheart, Susan, whom I met in Grade 11. Fortunately, Susan thought it was perhaps wiser that I graduated from high school and went to college before getting married. Sue has always been the intellectual partner in our 42-year marriage.
However, the past is a nice place to visit but you can’t live there. So the cherished memories of people and places I have known will bring me comfort as I reinvent myself for the next phase of my life.
What does the future hold? It is important to keep engaged with young people in our community and as such I have accepted invitations to join the board of directors of the Canadian Club of Hamilton and the CHML Children’s Fund. I also plan to do some media relations/marketing projects with a number of organizations in Halton and Greater Hamilton. Being a grandfather to Cooper, Allie, Travis and Henry will also keep me active.
Also of interest: when you retire you are always asked about advice. Mine is simple.
“Enjoy life’s journey and try not to focus too much on the destination or goal; relish the ride”
So many people in greater Hamilton have been generous and kind in sharing of their talents and skills with me over the year and I would not have had the success I had, were it not for their selfless generosity.
And please stay tuned to this page. It’s only the beginning for a retiring baby boomer.
— Barry Coe is the almost retired Director of Community Relations and Resource Development for Mission Services of Hamilton.