Dave Boyle, 1948-2011

“Fearless, relentless, and righteous.” That’s how the Chicago Sun-Times described my friend Dave Boyle in his obituary.

Dave got to Vietnam just in time for the Tet Offensive in 1968. He didn’t talk much about his time in Vietnam, but he always planned to go back some day and tour the country in peacetime by motorcycle.

Dave was what a Republican presidential candidate would sneeringly call a community organizer. He fought the system and he organized his neighbors to clean up Cicero, Illinois. For his trouble he got his garage firebombed. He got arrested eleven times.

Dave left Cicero and went to law school. He graduated from South Texas College of Law in 1996, and started practicing criminal-defense law in Houston. That’s when I met him and his wife, Nadine, who had worked at STCL while Dave was in law school.

Dave didn’t go to law school to make lots of money. He went to law school to help other people, and to save on his own legal fees. My ambition bemused Dave. We worked on cases together and bounced ideas off of each other from then until he returned to Cicero in 2000.

After Dave and Nadine went back to Cicero, I saw Dave only a couple of times. On a family trip to Chicago, we went out for ice cream with him and Nadine. We met with a potential client on a case in federal court in Illinois. We talked a few times on the phone, usually because I called with a puzzler. Dave was working hard, and mostly for free, starting a law clinic to help those who couldn’t afford a lawyer. Dave was always there with a willing ear, a word of advice, and a laugh (“ha! better you than me, brother”).

Dave died last February; I found out last week. Ordinarily I might say “Rest in Peace,” but Dave was a warrior, an Irishman and a Marine. He loved a good fight. If there’s an afterlife, Dave isn’t sitting on a cloud playing the harp. He’s seeking out injustice and corruption, and he’s fighting them.

Fight on, brother.

(More on Dave: NYT.com, Chicago Tribune.)

7 responses to “Dave Boyle, 1948-2011”

  1. Mark- He was a brave man. Cicero is rough. And you are a good man to remember him as you have. Will you post a link to his photo if possible?
    Thanks. Robb

  2. Mark- would you describe him as a Social Entrepreneur? Sounds like he was selfless, ethical, passionate, driven, obsessive, and positive.

    • I would imagine that if you called Dave Boyle a “social entrepreneur” to his face, he would bitch-slap you across the room. I similarly imagine that you wouldn’t understand why.

  3. I’m proud to say that David Boyle was my first cousin. Thanks for remembering him so accurately. The New York Times magazine section on December 25th contained an article about Dave and Nadine as well, written by Alex Kotlowitz, and it included a photo of them both.
    Gary Wingfield, who David met at South Texas, gave an amazing eulogy at the memorial gathering Nadine organized in Cicero, held fittingly at a VFW hall. Ever the trickster, I think Dave even had a hand in the Marine honor guards, as they presented the folded flag to Nadine, thanking her for his service in Korea.

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