Richard Peter Doyle

Richard Peter Doyle
June 12, 1940 – January 12, 2024

Kansas City, Missouri – Pete Doyle, of Kansas City, Mo., a retired mental health counselor and teacher whose previous careers ranged from Jesuit seminarian to New York taxi driver, died Friday, Jan. 12, in his home. He was 83.

Richard Peter Doyle was born in East Lansing, Mich., on June 12, 1940. His father, a surgeon and Army officer, moved the family to California before settling in St. Louis, where Pete spent his youth. Always curious and studious, he also had an unexpected sense of mischief-at one point racing his family car down an icy street so aggressively that it spun 360 degrees yet ended pointed safely in the right direction.

As the oldest son, Pete looked out for his siblings. When his brother Tom was a toddler, he stepped off a dock and disappeared into the water; Pete jumped in and pulled Tom to safety. He rescued his sister Cathy twice-once from drowning in a swimming pool and years later saved her from an imminent car crash.

Pete became a skilled sailor on Crystal Lake, Mich., where the Doyles spent their summers. Racing skiffs on the lake led to a lifelong love of sailing, which he continued to pursue into his 70s.

He graduated from St. Louis University High in 1958, studied architecture at Notre Dame University, and eventually began studies to enter the Society of Jesus. As a seminarian, he studied Latin and Greek, and earned an undergraduate degree in the classical arts in 1965 and a master’s degree in philosophy in 1971 at St. Louis University.

After more than 10 years, Pete left the seminary and set off on an odyssey across the United States, hitchhiking and riding freight trains from coast to coast. In New York City, he drove a taxi, sold coffee service to offices door to door, taught English at a private school, and worked as a cabinetmaker. After a few years he moved to Kansas City and taught woodworking at Notre Dame de Sion Lower School, where he met and fell in love with fellow teacher Anola Pickett. The two married in 1976 and were blessed with their only child, Gerry Doyle.

Pete’s jobs continued to evolve, from stay-at-home dad to newspaper salesman to woodworker to English teacher at Rockhurst High School.

In the early 1990s he made his last career change, earning a master’s degree in counseling and guidance at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, and becoming a mental health counselor. In addition to a small private practice, he helped trauma victims at local hospitals and visited prisoners at Leavenworth Penitentiary. He continued working as a counselor until retiring in 2018.

Throughout his life he loved all forms of creative expression: art, music, literature, and photography. Travel was a perfect fit for his boundless curiosity about people and nature around the world, and he happily photographed both. He particularly loved snapping pictures of birds, and devised clever ways to make them feel at home in his yard so he could frame the perfect shot. Pete also kept at woodworking, finishing several furniture projects at home in recent years.

His ability to listen thoughtfully and offer a considered response made an impression on everyone he met. He adored his grandchildren, Neko and Cash, and read stories to them over video chat nearly every day during the depths of the COVID pandemic. He passed along many of his interests to his son, including a love of philosophy and aviation. When Gerry was 7, Pete bought a complex model of a World War II fighter for them to build together. With Pete’s insistence on nailing each detail, it was a painstaking job. He finished it in December 2023.

Pete is survived by Gerry, Anola, his daughter-in-law, Kara, and Neko and Cash; two brothers, Tom and Tim; and two sisters, Becky Halleron and Cathy Hoehn. His sister Debby Faust died in 2023.

A celebration of life will be held in early summer 2024. He was a longtime member of St. Therese Little Flower parish; to honor him, donations may be sent to St. Therese Emergency Assistance, 5814 Euclid, KCMO 64130.

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