Paul Coughlin In Memoriam
Co-Founder of BerkshireStyle
My dearest friend, my design guru, my partner who co-founded BERKSHIRESTYLE, died last Sunday of heart failure. He had such a large one.
Paul Coughlin. It took me awhile to learn to pronounce his name properly. He was an Irish Roman Catholic from New Jersey. I am, a WASP from Westchester County — two very different worlds but we loved one another.
Dear Paul. We had a history, a cherished relationship filled with long talks, life decisions and colorful stories. We would often laugh without control at the absurdities of the world and of our own lives.
Sometime, well over 20 years ago, we met. At the time, Paul was photographing dogs and so was I. We knew of one another by reputation only. I was in a fitting room at Country Road, a ladies clothing store in New York City, trying on trousers. I know Paul told me what he was doing there but I can't remember.
I heard this voice at a nearby register saying, “I’m Paul Coughlin.” I quickly dressed and went into the showroom. “Paul, I’m Toni Tucker”. I cannot remember if we fell into each other’s arms actually or metaphorically. We were both delighted and bonded ever since.
Through the years Paul was my professional guide, my teacher and my friend, whether it was helping me learn to use PhotoShop when the manuals failed or an introduction to the value of YouTube at our last meeting.
It is fair to say that Paul co-authored Zen Dog, although, with his unfailing modesty, he refused to take any credit. He introduced me to my co-author, Judy Adler who conceived the book, and to his agent, Susan Golomb, for my first venture into the world of publishing.
I knew nothing about creating a proposal, scanning images, editing content. I remember one night back then, it was 10PM and we were still at Kinkos copying photographs for submission. Paul was exhausted. I begged him to stay with me until I finished. Of course, he did.
Together we had a dream. A dream of an online magazine celebrating the Berkshires, where I then lived. It may even have been Paul’s idea but we both loved it. And together we set out to create BERKSHIRESTYLE, an online resource and magazine – an ode to this glorious region.
I did my research in the country then commuted to New York every other week to work with Paul. Together we created what we believed to be a photographic and editorial tribute to the area and its aesthetic.
He was both the inspiration and co-creator. Without him BERKSHIRESTYLE would not exist.
What were his qualities I valued most?
His compassion. He listened to both our joys and our failures. He enjoyed everyone he knew, even those he met on the street. We all became subjects of his stories.
His humor and his tales. Paul was an amazing storyteller with the skill of the Irish. He could take forever describing a scene, an event or a person - usually with a funny ending. Paul, my friend, I will miss those laughs.
His talent. Paul was an artist, a man of so many talents - writing, drawing, design, graphics - it was hard to contain them. He had an internal sense of design that permeated every decision he made, from the purchase of a teacup to the design of a website.
His sense of process. I was always in a hurry to get it done but Paul wouldn't allow. It was, “this is just a prototype, Toni. Perhaps we can try something else. Another arrangement, another color.” We worked until we made it better and then had to look again the next morning. Everything was a work in progress.
His love of dogs. We both adored them. We shared stories of Maisie, Faren and all the rest of my continuous parade. He was there to trade tales of ridiculous adventures at the dog park, to advise me on medical decisions and to comfort me when I melted in pain over a sickness or a death.
Most of all, I will miss his friendship; our late-night calls, our coffees at Starbucks on Astor Place, our artistic collaboration, our shared decisions on the next right life moves, our walks through the thrift shops of Manhattan, his interest in my life and in those of his friends. He created a community, his own community, and remained loyal to us all.
Rest in peace Paul. Know that you brought great opportunity and joy to my life and that you will be in my heart forever. And, as we discussed many times, you are now in a far, far better place and with the angels.