BY HEINO MOLLS – Last year I had the privilege of sitting in the Mississauga Living Arts Centre and I heard an angel’s voice. I was attending the performance of Canada’s premier soprano singer, Lesley Andrew.
If you have ever been in this place, you know that it was built with acoustics in mind, not just esthetics. It’s a wonderful building, all done up with class and style. But what is even more important is the clarity of sound and the sweet purity of music that is created within its walls, that far overshadow its flamboyant look and garish appearance from the outside.
When I think of this place, I think of a man who was pivotal in raising the money to get it built.
Paul passed away in July. His loss is a blow to the real estate industry in Canada, and devastating to all who knew him.
Paul had outrageous style and class in his outside appearance. And inside this man beat the heart of a guardian angel that helped more people than there is room to list here. The list of charities that received funds as a result of Paul’s efforts is long and extensive.
Some folks say they like to give back a little to their community. Paul Coughlin gave back as much if not more than his own wealth from an exceptionally successful real estate career.
He was a humble kid from Parkdale, a hardscrabble neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end, who became a tenacious ambassador to Mississauga, Ont. He was also the city’s best known and most loved Realtor.
What defined Paul most of all was the help he gave to his peers, his fellow Realtors. Paul did more for folks in the real estate industry who ran into bad luck than any benevolent fund ever created in our industry. Paul was there with his wallet, his encouragement, his heart and his soul. But he’d never tell you the names of those who received his help. Dignity to others was as important to Paul as the help he gave.
When you talked to Paul Coughlin, you felt important. His eyes betrayed a sincere interest in you. Paul Coughlin was genuine. He cared. He loved his community and never missed an opportunity to promote it.
As far as Paul was concerned, it was never about him. If you wanted to talk about him or his success in real estate, he would demur. But when it came to raising funds or helping a charity, he was shameless. I recall visiting him at his office just a few years ago and I said I that I wanted to talk to him about all the remarkable things he had done for others, but he said, “Never mind all that, I want to tell you about an extraordinary young man named John Ryan.”
John Ryan was the Realtor who was hand-cycling across Canada that year for Spinal Cord Regeneration. Paul filled my ear with about the importance of what John Ryan was doing, and what an outstanding person he was, justifiably so. But of course Paul forgot to mention that he personally was instrumental in raising over $100,000 for John Ryan’s Regeneration
Tour. I’m sure it just slipped his mind.
Paul Coughlin was known as Mr. Bowtie and was famous for his eclectic style of clothing. The first time I met Paul, he was wearing a glaring pink sports jacket, a frilled shirt and of course the outlandish bow tie. I know that I will never meet anyone again who could pull that off with such panache and style. He had such class. I shall miss Paul always.
Paul’s wife and business partner, Mary Hurley, was his soul mate in life. They were a team in benevolence and help to others. Their hearts were cut from the same cloth. If you would like to express your condolence, I am sure that Mary would be pleased to see you at their office at Prudential Realty Services Plus, 2273 Dundas St. West, Mississauga.
If you have the opportunity to drop by you should say hello to Paul’s business associate for many years, Bill Croft. I am certain that if you look into Bill’s eyes, you will see the same rascal and character of his dear friend.
And if you talk to Bill, you better bring your money. Because I am certain you won’t be leaving without a donation to the Paul Coughlin Foundation.
As for me, I am going to write a letter to the administrators of the City of Mississauga and suggest to them that they should change the name of the Living Arts Centre to the Paul Coughlin Centre.
How fitting it would be to name a building that has all that sparkling glass on the outside after Paul Coughlin. A building that you could go inside and hear the voices of angels.
Heino Molls is publisher of REM. Email [email protected]
By: Heino Molls