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R.I. Heritage Hall of Fame honors Bobby Doyle

June 17, 2011

Bobby Doyle

Just shy of his teenage years, Brendan Doyle remembers being at a few of the water stops along the course of the 1990 Ocean State Marathon.
His older brother Patrick was there, too.
Earlier in their lives they were two young to really witness the impact that their father had at the 26.2-mile race that traversed over the Newport streets. On this day, though, it was different.
First-hand, the oldest sons of the late Bobby Doyle, got to see their dad in action.
The former Central Falls native, at the age of 41, went on to win Ocean State for the seventh and last time of his illustrious career.
“I remember him going to the race and saying he wanted to win the masters division,” Brendan said. “I remember seeing him going back and forth [with the lead runners]. He made a surge later in the race and never looked back.”
The elder Doyle made his surge about the halfway mark.
“I can remember between about mile 13 and 14, giving him a drink and running next to him,” Patrick said. “I must have been in the fifth grade and I was sprinting to keep up with him. He was saying how much do I have (on the second-place runner). He had about 300 meters…He just told me I’m just going to put my head down and go.”
“It was an unbelievable win,” Brendan added. “He won a marathon in his 20s, 30s and 40s. That’s three different decades. I don’t think there are many runners that have ever done that.”
Doyle’s victory at the Ocean State Marathon capped an amazing career that not only saw him prosper in the R.I. race, but elsewhere. The former Hope High all-stater and University of Texas- El Paso All-American, who died of a heart attack at age 58 in 2007, was a frequent competitor at the famed Boston Marathon with a trio of top finishes. He placed 12th in 1978, seventh in 1979 and fifth in 1985. He twice competed in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials (1980, 1984) and also took part in the 1979 Pan American Games in Puerto Rico. In his 1979 Boston race, he recorded his personal-best time of 2 hours, 14 minutes, 3 seconds.
On Friday night at the Providence Marriot Downtown, Bobby Doyle and eight other Rhode Islanders that have made an impact in the state will be inducted into the R.I. Heritage Hall of Fame, located in Providence at a building that will one day house the new R.I. state museum called Heritage Harbor.
Doyle, a former track and cross-country coach at Woonsocket High, will be inducted posthumously. He’s the only member of the newest class that has made his mark in the sports spectrum. Among others that will be inducted are Barnaby Evans, the creator, founder and executive artistic director of WaterFire Providence, Cranston native Vincent DiBona, creator of America’s Funniest Videos and Entertainment Tonight, and former Governors, the late Christopher DelSesto and Philip Noel.
Doyle was chosen not only for his athletic background, but for the numerous charitable organizations he assisted, such as Special Olympics Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team-in-Training Program.
“It’s such an honor,” Brendan Doyle said. “My dad dedicated his whole life to his family and the running community.”
“His community work was great, especially with the Special Olympics,” Patrick said. “He really gave back in that area….He never said no to anybody and he never asked for money or appearance fees like other runners. He felt guilty. Running was just something he loved to do. It was just a God-given gift. He was very humble and didn’t like that spotlight at all.”
The festivities tonight will begin with a 6 o’clock social hour, followed by dinner, entertainment and the induction ceremony.

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