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Rock Climbing : News : Obituaries : Howard Doyle dies at age 64

Howard Doyle dies at age 64

Submitted by roninthorne on 2006-12-20

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Early Seneca and Champe rocks, Nelson and Judy Gap developer and East Coast hardman and pioneer Dr. Howard Thomas Doyle Jr., Ph. D., passed away at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Nov. 27, 2006. He was 64 years old.

Born and raised in Jersey City, Dr. Doyle lived in Maryland for many years, spending weekends and holidays producing and repeating hard climbs throughout Germany Valley and the East Coast before moving to Utah eight years ago. He was a professor at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C., before retiring.

Dr. Doyle achieved his bachelors degree from the University of Maryland in 1966, then his masters degree from Montclair State College in 1969 and his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 1971. He was a world traveler and an avid rock climber and skier. Many of the early hard routes at Seneca (many of which remain testpieces of nerve and skill to this day) were the work or inspiration of Howard Doyle and his contemporaries, freeing the old aid lines and setting new standards and modest grades.

Long-time East Coast hardman Eddie Begoon remembered Doyle as "the man who consolidated the idea of hard rock climbing at Seneca and all over the East Coast", as well as crossing the globe in search of good rock and deep powder. Next time you thumb through a Seneca Rocks guide, count the number of times you find his name, and think of the number of times you've climbed his harder routes.

Howard's memory for detail on climbs years in the past was uncanny; if questioned about a route in passing, with a moment's thought he could produce complete descriptions of gear, holds, and the FA conditions.

Howard Doyle was a big man. I only met him once, but I remember the solid mass of the man, even in his older years. Even then, faded and weathered, he had a presence, a strength.

As I have explored Seneca over the years since, tracing her routes and faces, and wandering the East Coast through other trad areas and lost corners, I have come to understand, in a very small way, just how large the spirit inside him was.

Howard was part of a cadre of true hardmen and women, doing what they did for the sheer love of it, with little glory or recognition. Their examples are still inspiring milestones on the Path.

There are not many like Howard Doyle, in any age. He will be missed.

See discussion thread here.


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Howie was my godfather.....i hadn't seen or heard from him in years since he had moved out west, only because of the restless spirit of his that moved him from place to place every so often. By a cruel twist of fate, my mother looked him up the day after I noted how much I'd like to connect with him again, only to find his death notice. Ever-lingering memories such as when he took me to school as a toddler with my dad or giving me a whole $50 bill (never laid eyes on one at the tender age of 6) at my christening help to mitigate irony's painful grip. Would love to connect with his family to let them know he's still a godfather in my heart, regardless of time. Godspeed. Alexandra Renison

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