John Martin Doyle, 85; led bricklayers union

John M. Doyle
John M. Doyle
Posted: May 11, 2013

John Martin Doyle, 85, of Drexel Hill, a third-generation bricklayer and former president of Local 1 of the Philadelphia Bricklayers Union, died Monday, May 6, of asbestosis at home.

He had been diagnosed with the illness in 1999, said his daughter, Eileen Doyle.

Mr. Doyle, known as Jack, was born in 1927 in the tough, mostly Irish neighborhood of South Philadelphia known as Devils Pocket.

Mr. Doyle's family moved seven times before he was 8. Marty Doyle, Mr. Doyle's father, was a second-generation bricklayer who trained fighters - including his three sons - to box at Pat MacAvoy's gym at Second Street and Tasker Avenue.

In 1948, Mr. Doyle won the Golden Gloves as a welterweight. Mr. Doyle also played football for the Kingsessing Shamrock and basketball for the Harps.

During the mid-1940's, Mr. Doyle enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to the Donner, a dock landing ship, on which he served as a cook. He was honorably discharged April 2, 1947.

After his service, Mr. Doyle followed his father into bricklaying. He apprenticed for a little more than two years and rose to journeyman eight months ahead of the normal schedule.

He ran for office in Local 1 so he could improve working conditions, his daughter said.

He ran successfully for a series of low-level positions, and then for president of Local 1. With the win in 1955, he became the local's youngest leader at age 26. He served until 1970.

In 1970, he became special deputy for the International Bricklayers and Allied Crafts Union in charge of the mid-Atlantic states.

Three years later, he was asked to create a national organizing department for the union. He became the department's first director and served in that capacity until retiring in 1986.

In retirement, he and his wife, Eileen, visited Ireland and spent winters in Port Charlotte, Fla. The two met growing up on the same block of Grays Ferry Avenue. They married in 1952. She died in 2012.

Surviving, in addition to his daughter, are two brothers; a sister; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 10, at St. Dorothy Roman Catholic Church, 4910 Township Line Rd., Drexel Hill. A viewing will be from 10 to 11:15 a.m. at the church. Interment will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook

at 215-854-2611 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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