Professor Emeritus William T. Doyle Passes Away

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Professor William Doyle. Bill dedicated his career to teaching and mentoring countless Dartmouth undergraduate and graduate students. Even in his retirement he could regularly be found in Wilder, talking with students and colleagues, and working on his research.

William T. Doyle of Hanover died Sunday, August 3, 2014 after an 8-month illness. Bill Doyle was born December 5, 1925 in New Britain, Conn. to Thomas W. and Kathleen McConn Doyle. Tom Doyle was a newspaperman and small businessman who invested all he had in the stock market just prior to the 1929 crash.

Bill spent much of his youth tinkering with radios; picking up coal by the railroad tracks; pestering his younger sister Jean; and messing around in the woods with his cousin Francis McConn ("Cousin Frannie").

Bill liked his elementary school. He often mentioned having been suddenly struck by the amazing way that light was able to pass through the solid windows of his first-grade classroom.

Bill did not like high school. At sixteen he dropped out, and worked for a time in one of the tool-making factories for which New Britain was then famous.

At seventeen Bill enlisted in the navy and entered radio school, where high marks in theory let him scrape through despite abysmal marks sending Morse code. He spent the war as a radio operator on an LST in the Mediterranean. Cousin Frannie died in the war; Bill said that a day never went by that he did not think of him.

After the war the "GI Bill" opened up the possibility for Bill to attend college. He was granted a GED on the basis of his radio school work, creatively reinterpreted as applicable to "airport management". A sympathetic dean at Colby College in Maine said he would admit Bill if Bill learned German. In the fall of 1947 Bill entered Colby, where he met his future wife Barbara Grant at a meeting of the German Club.

Barbara graduated from Colby in 1949 and went on to graduate school in biology at Brown. Bill transferred to Brown that same year, and in 1951 he got his B.S., she got her M.S., and they got married. They moved to a quonset hut at Yale, where Barbara worked in a biophysics lab while Bill worked toward his Ph.D. in physics. In 1955 Bill graduated and took a job at Dartmouth, where he spent his entire career, teaching physics and studying the amazing way light is able to pass through solids.

Bill particularly loved physics; German; poetry; the writings of Henry David Thoreau; his "camp" in the Maine woods; and his family and friends.

Bill is survived by his wife Barbara; two sons and their wives; five beloved granddaughters; and a passel of nieces and nephews, both real and nominal.

Contributions in Bill's memory may be made to The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust ( or the National Wildlife Federation (