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Bernie’s Life Celebrated: A Parade of Eras

You know, it’s a great reminder.  Eras come and go in a richly lived life.  It’s not all one story.  Well, it is one story, but, with luck, it will have several chapters.  It is NOT the story of rock stars and sports celebrities – you know, meteoric youthful rocket rise then slow and pitiful descent into aged irrelevance.

Bernie Novokowsky was born in Saskatchewan.  He went into the military.  He served in Europe.  On return, he took the pension young and edged into organization development with Canterra and Husky.  That developed into a meaningful consulting career, a Ph. D. from the Fielding Institute. He led a
markedly different executive development program he called HOT – Higher Order Thinking.  Latterly, involvement with the Parkdale Community, a serial battle with cancer and, a couple of weeks ago, departure from his beloved wife, M J, and this life.

Simple to tell, but as I wandered around his commemorative – folks packed into the Parkdale Hall – the eras came together in a crescendo of beneficial impact.  Right up my alley, PEOPLE OF FINE CHARACTER EXTENDING THEIR IMPACT.

My own approach to guiding folks to richly lived lives is that we do enjoy eras, that we must be willing to engage and disengage with life structures serially and that we go through predictable phases as we cycle on.  We can design our lives – and those lives can be rich and create impact at any stage.
Buying into the prevailing myth of cautiously staying put and then hitting the Freedom 55 jackpot is a prescription for disappointment.  Certainly not for Bernie!

The man accumulated a towering body of work.  He was a missionary for reviving a theory of dynamic interaction called Systematics. His cause ennobled his life – and lit many others.  He was a thinker above all – elegant and elevating.  Meeting Bernie for coffee: he heard out the usual updates but
soon you were past the day to day and into his territory.  You left on a higher plane – with a head full of intrigue and fascinating speculation. Constructive –  never critical – he always gave you  “another way of thinking about it.”

He was grounded in the spirit of an age in which fearless intellectual discovery launched on the premise that humankind had not arrived yet and was destined beyond.  It is a profoundly optimistic stance and one I am very gladdened to see is being taken up by the best of our young idealists.

Always in search of a higher order concept to find our way in progressively more complex challenges – he was rationality transcendent.  Very intent: he burned as an old soul.   He drew on deep connection – evoked resonant friendships which though intellectual on the surface were deeply rooted in
emotion and spirit.  He honored and left our lives infused with greater purpose and knowing.

As we age, we must deal with death as a fact of life.  Abe Wagner says:  “Every time somebody dies, a great library burns to the ground.”  Maybe we should add “retires” to that sentence.  Bernie took a pension but never retired!

Life is a passing parade of eras.  Each one fully occupies us such that we can’t believe it could end and pass but it does.  Better get on with making the absolute most of each one!  And it’s never over.

The able compere of the tribute, Murray Hiebert, celebrated Bernie’s “families” – each one from a different era of a remarkably rich lived life:  too soon ended at 59. My wish for you is that you should have capitalized on your gifts to have your life marked by a jammed hall-full of grateful people
hailing the richness brought to them by your life.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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