A man worth imitating

I didn’t know him as well as some, but I didn’t have to. It only took a few interactions with Mike Coyle to understand the caliber of the man you were dealing with.

He was 53 when he passed unexpectedly a few days before Christmas. For as much as I don’t know why good people perish in the prime of their lives, I do know this: Mike Coyle accomplished more in fifty-three years than most of us will in 80. And I don’t just mean earthly accomplishments; I mean heavenly ones, too.

My interactions with Mike began while delivering customer Christmas gifts. I was just a junior banker, new to town. The gift was merely a tin of nuts. Yet, he welcomed me in like I was something special and he had nothing going on. We visited for 10 or 15 minutes about our families, his business, his new office.

I later found out he had plenty going on. When I volunteered for the city planning commission, I realized how many important public and private projects he helped with. Throughout south Texas and the hill country, he and his beloved wife, Beth, built a highly respected civil engineering firm. These Aggies would make a Longhorn proud.

My path would often cross Mike’s in political circles. Though heavily involved, he was hardly interested in raw power. He wanted good leadership and sound governance. He engaged not because he wanted something in return. He engaged simply because he cared, and that’s rare for someone who often has business before government bodies.

Mike wanted the best not just for himself, but for you and me. He wanted good for the community he called home for more than 25 years, a community he served in so many official and informal ways. It was no surprise that some wanted him to run for county commission.

Mike’s friend, Dan Pedrotti, said it well at his memorial: “There was no arrogance, no conceit, no deceit in Mike Coyle.” The words reminded me of what Jesus said about his disciple, Nathanael, in John 1, “Here is a true member of God’s family in whom there is no deceit.” Mike was a true member of God’s family.

Speaking of family, Bill McCartney, founder of the PromiseKeepers Men’s Ministry, said you can tell the measure of a man by the countenance on his wife’s face. No face shines brighter in Boerne than that of Beth Coyle.

Beth’s demeanor stems from her own wide-ranging giftedness (notice her photography on display in the Daily Grind sometime) but also from the strength imparted by a deeply loving and unselfish man.

And their children? Mike and Beth had twin daughters early, recalling Psalm 127:4 – “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.” They now have children of their own. Letters written by the two young mothers left no dry eye at the funeral. They are all your preacher needs to say next Father’s Day.

And so the questions ring out: Why so soon? Why now? Why him?

But so do the imperatives: Live freely and joyfully. Love generously and fully. Be faithful.

As does this bit of wondering: Like Mike, If I could be like Mike…


Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at www.kwt.info.

4 Responses to “A man worth imitating”

  1. 1 jessestroup January 11, 2014 at 21:34

    Kevin,  That’s the most personal article of yours that I have read.  I am so pleased with you.  Thank you for not letting the godly life of a 53 year old man go unnoticed by those outside Boerne who read your article.  I am reminded of my dad’s tragic death at 52.   Jesse   Jesse R. Stroup Director of Spiritual Care Lifeline Chaplaincy 511 N. Akard suite 202 Dallas, TX 75201 jessestrouplive@yahoo.com

  2. 2 Juanita Overstreet January 11, 2014 at 22:01

    This is a wonderful article. I did not know Mr. Coyle but from your article, it makes me want to make changes in my life. I have often thought, as you started, why so soon, etc. Thanks for sending me your articles. God Bless, Juanita Overstreet

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. 3 Bennye Waskom January 12, 2014 at 01:40

    Loved this Kevin …thanks for saying it for all of us. Bennye

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. 4 Bennye Waskom January 13, 2014 at 12:08

    So well said…B Sent from my iPhone

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