Book Review: Our Final Quarter (Dave, Duane & Neil)

Our Final Quarter is the joint autobiography of Dave Kyllonen, Duane Nicholson, and Neil Enloe. From the 1957 through 1980, they traveled together as the Couriers. Tenor Duane Nicholson and Neil Enloe traveled together at various points since, eventually handing the Couriers’ name off to a new generation in 2000. During those years, Dave Kyllonen was involved in music ministry with his family. In the last few years, they have reunited and tour together as Dave, Duane & Neil.

The first part is the recollections of bass/baritone singer Dave Kyllonen. His section focuses heavily on the final quarter of his life, as the title suggests; his original stint with the Couriers is dealt with in two paragraphs in chapter one, though referenced later. A fairly large portion of his section is comments and tributes from family members and friends. It provides a fascinating look into his life, but I was slightly concerned that if the other two sections followed the same model, readers could end the book without more than a basic understanding of how the Couriers got to their final quarter.

Duane Nicholson’s section rapidly remedied those concerns. His colleagues said he was the one to remember details and precise events, and he did not disappoint. His section is a gripping and fascinating look at the history of the Couriers.

The personality and integrity of the group shines through in his often understated comments. After describing their only major vehicular accident—a trucker had fallen asleep at the wheel, crashing into their bus and totaling it—he said: “Our lawyers wanted us to sue the trucking company, but we found out that the trucker had only three trucks and only two of those were being used. We could have put him out of business but we decided not to.”

He faced what must have been an even greater temptation to sue later, when a botched operation to remove a vocal nodule disabled his voice and indirectly forced the Couriers’ retirement (as they did not want to continue without him). Friends urged him to sue the doctor for malpractice, but he said:

The idea was that I should be compensated for loss of income because of malpractice, but this was not an option for me. By this time the Couriers were well known; if I sued, it would be in all the major newspapers and on radio and television. What kind of testimony would that be? I probably would have destroyed this doctor’s practice, but in light of eternity what would that accomplish?

This viewpoint of living life through the light of eternity permeated the Couriers’ approach to life and ministry. After God started calling them into missions work, they aimed to devote 10% or more of their time to performing in around the world in missions-type situations. Some of the highlights of the book are the sections where they describe how God opened improbable doors for them to minister in 80 nations.

Neil Enloe’s section closed the book. He adopted an approach like Nicholson’s (though briefer), giving a chronological recounting of his life and the ministry’s history, as well as discussing the stories behind some of his songs.

If I could make one recommendation in this review, it would be to place Duane Nicholson’s account first in future printings. His is the most detailed history of the group and provides an excellent background to more fully appreciate the other two sections.

The three wrote their sections of the book individually, without seeing what the others had written. This approach lets the reader see the same stories through different lenses. Yet their similarities are far more evident than their differences. Though these men are unlikely to be remembered as the musical megastars of their generation, their passion for living in the light of eternity has resulted in a life-work with an impact that will only be fully realized then.

Note: This is unrelated to the book review, but attendees to this year’s NQC will have the chance to hear Dave, Duane, and Neil as they perform on the mainstage for the first time in decades on Friday night (9/18). If you’re there, don’t miss this rare opportunity.