Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bob Doyle

Local educator Bob Doyle often said that cancer might kill him, but it would never defeat him. On Jan. 2, 2008, he was correct on both counts. He was 68 years old.

Bob was a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his bachelor's degree, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was awarded a masters degree in history. Following a stint in the U.S. Army, Bob began his teaching and coaching career in Sacramento, Calif. After 10 years in the classroom, Bob became a high school vice principal. In 1973, he left Sacramento to become an administrator in California's Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District, where he would serve as an elementary principal, middle school principal, high school principal and assistant superintendent. In 1975, he was named "Man of the Year" by the Truckee Rotary Club for his contributions to the community of Truckee.

A chance visit to Sun Valley in the winter of 1976 led him to state on many occasions thereafter, "I came over Timmerman Hill and felt a sense of place." That "sense of place" became a reality in 1988 when Bob moved to the Wood River Valley, where he took a teaching job at Wood River High School. The next year he was offered the position of chairman of the history department at The Community School, a position he would fill until his retirement in 2003. At the school Bob was an assistant basketball coach and also coached the school's golf team. Bob counted the years at The Community School as the "happiest of my professional life, where I found students who were without peer anywhere in this country. That I got paid for working here seemed slightly ridiculous. I could hardly wait to get to school in the morning."

Bob's dedication to community service led him to initiate a community service program at the school. For those efforts both at school and in the community, the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce named him its Citizen of the Year in 1995, and in 1998 the Advocates for the Survivors of Domestic Violence named him Man of the Year in the Wood River Valley. In 1991 he was selected as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in World History at Princeton University, and spent four summers teaching world history to fellow secondary teachers throughout the country. However, he would say his greatest honor was being asked by the class of 2003 at The Community School to be its graduation speaker.

Bob loved to write, and for a period of years was a staff writer for the Twin Falls Times News and a regular contributor to Sun Valley Magazine. However, it was in poetry that Bob's greatest interest lay, and his poems appeared in diverse publications throughout the Northwest. He was fond of quoting poetry, particularly in his classrooms.

Bob was a member of Phi Delta Kappa, the education honor society, was on the board of the Environmental Resource Center from 1995-1998, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts from 1998-2002, and joined the board of the local YMCA in 2003. He loved golf above all other sports and divided his playing time between the Sun Valley Resort golf course and the Blue Lakes Club in Twin Falls. However, when the word love is mentioned, it needs to be said that more than life itself, Bob loved his wife, Carol; his children, Katherine Doyle, Kelly Doyle and Steve Doyle; three stepchildren, Jonathan Fisher, Maggie Shipley and Jill Fisher; sisters Constance Gilmore and Laura Doyle; four grandchildren; and his loving friends who made his life, "rich beyond measure." His mother, Ruth Doyle, of Grass Valley, Calif., followed him in death just 43 hours after his passing. His father, Francis Doyle, a pioneer in the field of special education, preceded him in death.

The backcountry, its preservation and its wild inhabitants were important to Bob, and were he to write his own epitaph he would quote from the poet Wendell Berry: "I come into the peace of wild things, who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief."

Any donation in his memory should be made to the Central Asia Institute, Box 7209, Bozeman, MT 59771, an organization that builds schools for girls in Afghanistan and one in which Bob was intimately involved, or to The Community School scholarship fund, Box 2118, Sun Valley, ID 83353 or to the Wood River Valley YMCA.

Bob's family would like to invite all of his many friends to Bob Doyle's Day on Saturday, Jan. 12. His "day" will begin with a memorial celebration at The Community School gymnasium commencing at 1 p.m. There will be a shuttle bus service from remote parking organized by the school. Those who wish to attend are urged to allow extra time to use this service. Bob Doyle's Day will continue at the Wood River Valley YMCA at 6 p.m. for a more casual party/reception with refreshments, Bob's favorite music and an open microphone for any who would like to share a memory or a good Doyle story.

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