It would not be a stretch to describe James Doyle’s interests as “eclectic.”Prior to joining the Westhampton Beach Police Department in 1960, eventually rising to the rank of chief in 1979—a position he would hold for the next 10 years—Mr. Doyle opened a gas station and auto repair shop in Flanders, a business he would run for the next five years.
He learned about engines during his time in the U.S. Air Force, when he served as an airplane mechanic from 1952 until 1955, during the Korean War. He traveled frequently at the time and eventually was stationed at the old Air Force base that is now Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and immediately fell in love with the East End, according to his daughter, Dr. Maya Doyle.
Her father also had a passion for Civil War history, often taking his wife of 46 years, Marie Hansen Doyle of Westhampton, and their daughter on road trips to visit historic battlefields and the homes of former presidents. He also enjoyed collecting and repairing antique weapons.
“He felt it was important to know history,” Dr. Doyle said. “I think that guided a lot of his hobbies.”
After retiring from the police force in 1989, concluding a nearly three-decade long tenure with the department, Mr. Doyle took an interest in stained glass and took classes offered at a shop in Eastport, according to Dr. Doyle, who lives in Manhattan.
After nearly a lifetime of serving his community, Mr. Doyle died on Monday, December 14, at the Sunrise of Smithtown assisted living facility. The longtime Westhampton resident, who spent the past decade of his life battling Alzheimer’s disease, was 83 years old.
Born on October 30, 1932, to Joseph and Beatrice Weber Doyle, Mr. Doyle grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey. He joined the Air Force in 1952 and worked on the Air Force’s Flying Tigers, P-40 Warhawks, perhaps best known for their iconic shark mouth decals on their fronts. He was stationed a various military bases across the country before landing in Westhampton.
According to Dr. Doyle, her father enjoyed working on vehicles, noting that he had his shop from 1955 until 1960, and kept meticulous care of their family’s vehicles. Feeling a desire to serve his community, he joined the Westhampton Beach Police Department in 1960.
Three years later, Mr. Doyle met the love of his life. He and his spouse shared the same birthday—albeit two years apart—and were married in 1965, according to Dr. Doyle, the couple’s only child. She described her parents as affectionate people. Mrs. Doyle died in 2011.
“Everyone who knew my parents say they were incredibly devoted to each other,” Dr. Doyle said.
After nearly two decades of service, Mr. Doyle rose to the rank of police chief, a position he would hold for the next nine years before hanging up his holster in 1989. Former Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller, himself a former chief of police for both Westhampton Beach Village and Southampton Town, this week described Mr. Doyle as an honorable man who did his job well.
He held memberships with the Suffolk County Police Conference, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After his daughter moved out of their Westhampton home, Mr. Doyle took it upon himself to unofficially adopt all of the kids in their neighborhood, teaching them about drug awareness and how to enjoy the outdoors, according to Dr. Doyle.
Though he moved to Sunrise of Smithtown following his wife’s death, Mr. Doyle always retained his desire to help others. Dr. Doyle noted that after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, her father made his rounds around the facility, checking on others and making sure everyone was safe.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Doyle is survived by a son-in-law, Jason Schreiber of Manhattan, and grandson, Torben.
Wake services will be held this Saturday, December 19, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., at the Follett and Werner Funeral Home on Mill Road in Westhampton Beach. The funeral service will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday, also at the funeral home, with interment following at Westhampton Cemetery.