A number of individuals I love have just lately handed away (Bob Dole, Colin Powell, Fred Hiatt, Stephen Sondheim…), however the one one in that group who was additionally a detailed pal is Denis Doyle, who died at eighty-one on December 2 in Los Angeles, his residence lately.
Denis and his late spouse Gloria returned to their native state late in life to be close to their youngsters and grandchildren and since the indomitable Gloria wanted extra medical consideration and private assist. It was the best transfer, they usually had been spectacularly nicely taken care of as Gloria grew weaker and Denis acquired well being challenges of his personal.
I had the chance to go to a few instances, together with shortly earlier than the Covid-19 plague shut everybody down. Denis was bodily diminished however sharp, affable and curious as ever. Our actual relationship, although, was in Washington, the place for many years Denis and Gloria and Renu and I lived a few miles aside. It was each knowledgeable and social connection. Our children attended the identical faculty. We dined collectively 100 instances. We had many mutual pals. Renu was often capable of supply medical ideas, and I lapped up the recipes in Gloria’s self-published cookbooks.
Gloria Revilla Doyle, it have to be famous, was one of the crucial exceptional individuals I’ve identified. Regardless of a degenerative scenario that left her a quadriplegic for many years, she was a lot greater than plucky and decided. She was regal and commanding, inquisitive, beneficiant, and kindly, pursuing a variety of pursuits with a variety of pals—and expertly internet hosting many people—with nary a “woe is me,” a minimum of none that we ever heard.
And Denis was at all times there, even whereas sustaining his personal busy and productive skilled life, unfailingly supportive, affected person, loving, and accommodating, each in suburban D.C. and later within the Metropolis of Angels.
Denis’s skilled life was, after all, spent within the schooling realm, the place we first intersected and bonded, not simply because we agreed on a lot, but additionally as a result of we stimulated one another and on a number of events had been capable of collaborate, together with co-authored items that generally gored ungrateful oxen.
Denis began his profession as a staffer to the California legislature, then got here to Washington to work on the Workplace of Financial Alternative and Nationwide Institute of Training (antecedent to IES), the place he performed a big function in early school-voucher experiments. Submit-government, Denis was related to a number of eminent assume tanks and was a prolific writer, pundit, and scholar beneath their auspices and as an impartial advisor. He remained keen about faculty selection, significantly as a crucial technique to assist needy children in any other case caught in dire faculties. He hated the hypocrisy of those that opposed selection for others whereas availing themselves of it for their very own children. However he was no “silver bullet” reformer. He had loads of ammunition—and loads of targets. He served on the Nationwide Fee on Time and Studying. Whereas at AEI, he (and Terry Hartle) wrote incisively in regards to the strengths and weaknesses of state schooling businesses. He penned a trenchant comparability of the U.S. and Japanese schooling methods. Presumably his most influential work, coauthored with the late David Kearns, was Successful the Mind Race: A Daring Plan to Make Our Colleges Aggressive. [Doyle’s article “The Knowledge Guild: The tension between unions and professionals” appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of Education Next.]
Later in his profession, Denis and a few colleagues launched a profitable academic know-how agency referred to as SchoolNet.
As Andy Rotherham wrote of Denis, “A couple of issues stand out. First, his thoughts. You run into good individuals on this sector on a regular basis, and then you definitely run into *good* individuals on this sector. He was the latter. An actual mind, polymath, and curious particular person. Second, he was humorous. He was variety, however he was hilarious.”
His affect was felt far and large, not simply by his scholarship and commentary, but additionally by his influence on others. As Andy famous, “[U]pon his passing, it was noteworthy the quantity of people that stated issues like, ‘an actual mentor to me.’” And as Leslye Arsht and Sue Pimentel wrote, “Denis introduced a novel combine of experience and customary sense, confidence and curiosity, and understanding and good humor to charged and complicated arenas. He was certainly one of a form and will likely be missed.”
Denis was enjoyable, too. A teller of tales, a connoisseur of wonderful foods and drinks, a gracious and open-handed host, a genial companion, and the proprietor of a grand humorousness. It will have been arduous to not be his pal.
I’m privileged to have identified and labored with him. However greater than that, I cherished the man.