Veteran Catholic journalist, former CPA head Jim Doyle dies at 98

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Jim Doyle, who was executive director of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada from 1958 to 1988, died at age 98, his son Thomas Doyle told Catholic News Service late Nov. 21, 2019. Jim Doyle is pictured in a 1979 photo. (CNS files)

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Lake Mary — Jim Doyle, who was executive director of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada for 30 years, from 1958 to 1988, died Nov. 20, at age 98.

He died in Lake Mary, where he and his wife of 76 years, Ethel, have lived in recent years with their son Thomas More Patrick Doyle and his family.

His funeral Mass will be celebrated Nov. 25 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida.

"My father taught us as a family that our Catholic Church is our home, our Catholic faith is our heart and we should do everything to support the Catholic Church and strive to continually explore our Catholic faith," his son Thomas Doyle told Catholic News Service late Nov. 21.

His father "was an example and a model for us to the point where I have dedicated my life to working for the church and dedicated myself to Catholic education," he added. Thomas is president of Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando.

"We were all given a true model in my father in how to live your faith," he added.

Jim Doyle took over as CPA executive director in 1958, after editing a trade journal in New York, following service in the U.S. Army in World War II. He felt directed to the CPA by God, he said, and in his interview with CPA officers told them they would be making a huge mistake if they didn't hire him — and they agreed, he once said with a smile.

James Aloysius Doyle was born in Pittsburgh in the Crafton Heights section March 20, 1921. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather also were all named James Aloysius, although the fourth-generation "James A." liked to be called just Jim.

He had an older brother, Elmer James, and a sister, Mary Alice, who died in infancy. His mother was Anna Maria Holthaus, daughter of a German steelworker who emigrated from the Ruhr region of Germany to work in the Pittsburgh mills.

Doyle's father was an accountant, who changed jobs often in the Depression, as a consequence of which the family moved several times in the Midwest, finally settling in the New York area on Long Island.

Doyle attended Queens College of the City of New York, then a new campus established in Mayor Fiorello La Guardia's term. He was elected president of his class of 1943 and Ethel Miriam Clancey was elected vice president. Working as class officers, they fell in love and were married in October 1943.

Doyle served in World War II in Army Military Intelligence, as an aerial photo interpreter — first on Bougainville Island in the Pacific and then in Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters in Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia, and Manila, Philippines.

Among the many photos he interpreted and annotated were pictures of Hiroshima, Japan, destroyed by U.S. atomic bombing. He was awarded a citation for this World War II service by General Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces in the Pacific and Southwest Pacific.

Upon returning from the war, Doyle joined the Army Reserve to get extra money for his and Ethel's growing family, but was recalled to duty in 1951 as an intelligence officer and served in Germany at a time there was fear World War III might break out.

In 1984, Jim was named a Knight of St. Gregory the Great by St. John Paul II for his service as CPA executive director. Then after retiring from the CPA, for several years he wrote a column in Catholic New York, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. Some of those are collected in "Tales from a Real Life," published by St. Mary's Press. An earlier book, "Two Voices: A Father and Son Discuss Family and Faith," by Jim and son Brian was published by Liguori Publications.

"Their book is a hymn of praise to an otherwise unsung family life, traditional in style, loving in practice and ordinary in the lived experience," a CNS reviewer said of the book. "Jim Doyle's voice is the voice of experience, displaying the wisdom that comes with years of living one's values.

"Brian Doyle's voice is that of one who has assimilated much of that wisdom and is experiencing it in his own discoveries. ... 'This is what I've learned,' Jim seems to say. 'This is what I'm feeling,' says Brian. The two voices are in harmony and the reader enjoys the song."

Besides his wife, Ethel, and son Thomas and his wife, Diane Terorde Doyle, Jim Doyle is survived by daughter Elizabeth Marie, a Buddhist in Wappinger Falls, New York; and son Peter Joseph, of Broomfield, Colorado, and his wife, Sharon Wolf Doyle.

Two of Ethel and Jim's sons preceded him in death: John Kevin Doyle, a tenured professor at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois; and Brian James Doyle, an award-winning author of novels and essays and editor of the University of Portland's magazine.

Jane Ann Bates Doyle, Kevin's widow, and Mary Miller Doyle, Brian's widow, also survive, as do nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Two of Ethel and Jim's earlier sons, Seamus and Christopher, died in infancy.

At the CPA's 2013 convention in Denver, association officials passed a resolution congratulating Jim and Ethel Doyle on what was their upcoming 70th anniversary that October. It paid tribute to Jim's "extraordinary service" as executive director for three decades, and said the "robustness" of the association and its service to member publications in that time was "in great measure" attributable to Jim, "always supported, encouraged, assisted and inspired by his wife."

The CPA said the Doyles were "devoted Catholics, Christian disciples, exemplary spouses, man and woman of principle, wise and loving parents, loyal friends to so many who love them."


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