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

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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.


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5 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Daniel, I suspected you would find Duane’s part of the book the most interesting…and for those looking for a good firsthand account of the Couriers’ history, perhaps it can’t be beat.

    What makes this book especially illuminating to me though is the fact that it IS the definitive story of the Couriers, but even more than that, it is a look at the three constant core members as they really are(which I assume was the idea), and they each told their own stories in their own words, in their own respective ways. Looking at it this way, the reader can get a real sense as to not only what the Couriers were, but who they ARE, and why.

    And the part you selected from Duane’s portion to quote in your review is my very favorite portion of it as well. For in it we see what made Duane the man of God he is, as well as getting a good example of the mentality and commitment that set the Couriers above and apart from their peers, and earned them the reputation and influence that they had and still have among gospel singers then and now.

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      If my review could get a comment like that from the Couriers’ #1 fan, then I shall consider it a success. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Daniel, for reviewing the Couriers’ book. I, too, have rad the book. Three men who placed serving God and ministering to Him and to others above fame or fortune. And they were my favorite group in the 60s and 70s. My other favorites being the Statesmen and Cathedrals.
    I am looking forward to their being on stage at NQC and then being at my home church Grace Church of the Nazarene in Nashville on Sunday night following NQC. I enjoy your reports very much. Keep it up. Blessings!

  3. Thanks, Daniel, for reviewing the Couriers’ book. I, too, have read the book. Three men who placed serving God and ministering to Him and to others above fame or fortune. And they were my favorite group in the 60s and 70s. My other favorites being the Statesmen and Cathedrals.
    I am looking forward to their being on stage at NQC and then being at my home church Grace Church of the Nazarene in Nashville on Sunday night following NQC. I enjoy your reports very much. Keep it up. Blessings!

  4. Thanks for reviewing the original Couriers new book “Our Final Quarter”. These guys have been my heroes since I first heard them sing on the “Gospel Singing Jubilee” back in the 60’s.

    Dave, Duane and Neil are the real deal! I can’t wait to hear them sing at the NQC…..it’s been too long. I remember at last years’ NQC, Michael Booth mentioned the Couriers as being one of the groups that has influenced them the most. Michael, me too !!

    Thanks again for the review.