Friday, May 08, 2015

TOP STORY >> Cabot’s Civitan honors Doyle

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Civitan Club held a memorial dinner Thursday at the Freshman Academy cafeteria to celebrate the life of Bobby Doyle for what he did for others.

Doyle, who passed away in November, was a member of the Cabot Civitan Club and the Cabot Panther Foundation. Doyle retired as Special Olympics Arkansas CEO in 2012 after 40 years of service with the organization.

Doyle had been a Civitan member since 1982. He helped form the Cabot Civitan Club in 2008. Civitan president Steve Jackson said more needed to be said about Bobby Doyle than what was said at the funeral.

Cabot School Superintendent Tony Thurman said Doyle greatly influenced the school system. Thurman said, when he became head of the school district eight years ago, he had to go in front of the state Department of Education.

Thurman was told that something needed to be done or the district would be put in fiscal distress by the end of the next year.

“We came up with a plan and part of it was to generate more revenue. No one likes a tax increase,” Thurman said.

Doyle understood the seriousness of the matter and spread the word to the community that it needed to support a millage increase that would sustain the district into the future.

Thurman said Doyle was very demanding about the district needing the very best to provide for all of its students. The Panther Foundation raised funds and helped supply what was needed.

“He was proud to be a Cabotian. He took great pride in the school system, the facilities and having a say in them,” Thurman said.

Cabot Civitan president Steve Jackson said, “Bobby would travel anywhere to watch the Cabot Panthers play football or basketball.”

“He took a vested interest in making sure every student had exactly what they needed and knew what it took to make that happen,” Thurman said.

Past Civitan International president Markham Howe said, “Bobby changed lives wherever he went. He never put himself on a pedestal. He made sure the Special Olympians were on a pedestal.

“Bobby introduced all Civitans to Special Olympics,” Howe said.

He said the first job Doyle gave him at the Special Olympics was to be the Designated Hugger.

“My job was to hug every one of the athletes. I think (Doyle) gave me a little help. I walked out there and there were 300 athletes on that gym floor. I thought it was bedlam, but Bobby had it all laid out,” Howe said.

Special Olympics Arkansas director Terri Weir said Doyle taught her about kindness, humanity and what it means to be of service and the importance of respect.

Retired Cabot athletic director Johnny White said Doyle thought kids were the most important.

“Special Olympics athletes know what true love is more than any of us. At the funeral, I watched them come by one by one. Those medals they win mean a lot to them. When I saw them drop them in the casket, I knew Bobby Doyle had made a difference,” White said.

Past Cabot Civitan president Tom Nolting said, “(Bobby) was one of those guys who would walk around the whole room and shake everyone’s hand. He didn’t do that so you knew who he was. He wanted to know who you were and wanted you to know that no matter what anyone else said, whatever happened to you that day, you were special and he wanted you to know that.”

Peggy Doyle spoke about her husband. They were married for over 30 years.

“Bobby would have made it across the room several times and shaken your hand, patted you on the shoulder and hugged your neck. He would tell you it was really great to see you again. Then, with a huge smile on his face, he’d look at you and tell you, ‘You need to join Civitan,’” Peggy Doyle said.

“Bobby loved and helped people. He believed in giving to others, whether mowing somebody’s yard, lending them his tools or making regular calls to make sure a friend knew they weren’t alone and he was there,” she said.

“He believed in providing opportunities to others, youth and the special needs individuals. He strongly believed in being a volunteer,” she concluded.