Spring Hill College remembers Dr. Charles J. Boyle ’50, beloved professor emeritus and archivist

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 10:45am
Dr. Charles Boyle

MOBILE, Ala. – Dr. Charles J. Boyle, professor emeritus and former archivist at Spring Hill College, died Feb. 6, 2012, at age 87. He is remembered as a passionate and kindhearted teacher, scholar and historian.

Born in Bristol, Pa., in 1924, and later a resident of New Jersey, Boyle first came to Mobile in 1947 to attend Spring Hill College. He graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He went on to earn a master’s degree in English from Marquette University in 1952 and a doctoral degree in American literature from the University of Wisconsin in 1957.

Boyle returned to Spring Hill in 1957 as a member of the faculty in the Department of English. He served the College in various academic and administrative capacities, including chairman of the Division of Humanities and English, dean of faculties, and academic dean. In addition, he served as a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia in 1977-78. He was named Teacher of the Year in 1963 and 1986, chaired the College’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1980, and directed the Spring Hill College Venice Program in 1987-89. Boyle spoke at the College’s commencement ceremonies in 1985 and in 1992. The Charles Boyle Literary Lecture Series was established in 1995 and is held annually in his honor.

Boyle was named professor emeritus in 1990. After his retirement from full-time faculty status, he was appointed as the College archivist in 1991 and continued in this role until 2005. As archivist he was instrumental in celebrating the College’s 50th anniversary of integration in 2004-05 and the 175th anniversary of the College in 2005-06.

During his tenure at Spring Hill, Boyle compiled and edited three publications on the history of the College. “Twice Remembered: Moments in the History of Spring Hill College,” a compilation of events of the first 100 years of the college’s existence, was published in 1993. “Sound Mind, Sound Body: A History of Sports at Spring Hill College,” co-edited by Patrick McGraw, was published in 1997; and “Gleanings from the Spring Hill College Archives” was published in 2004.

Boyle writes in the preface of “Twice Remembered”: “The history of Spring Hill College is long and rich … Behind the rising and falling fortunes of our history have stood some amazing people: the founding bishop and his devoted priests; the 'rescuing' Jesuits and their tenacious, visionary leaders and priest-teachers; talented and self-sacrificing laymen; and the always present, always essential students, both men and women. Together they form an inspiring line of people … all dedicated to or in search of a cherished ideal of education. Their history of dedication and determination to survive make the true history of Spring Hill College.”

Boyle was a member of a number of academic and literary associations and served a two-year term as president of the Association of College English Teachers in Alabama. His primary focus in teaching was in the field of American literature. He taught courses in American fiction, poetry and drama; developed a seminar course in modern American fiction with an emphasis on William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor; and designed a course of study of the dominant themes of American literature.

Boyle is survived by his wife of 47 years, Roberta Fink Boyle, and daughters Barbara Catherine “Katie” Boyle and Bridget Boyle Lafferty. He is also survived by several grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Charlie was predeceased by his parents, Connell and Katie Boyle, and by his four siblings.

A Mass of Christian Burial is set for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 at St. Joseph Chapel at Spring Hill College, with Rev. Michael Williams, S.J., presiding and members of the Jesuit Community concelebrating. The family will receive friends beginning at 4 p.m. in the Chapel, and a reception will immediately follow the Mass in the Gautrelet Room in the Lucey Administration Center. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Charles J. Boyle Scholarship Fund at Spring Hill College. Contact the Office of Advancement at (877) SPR-HILL for more information.