Husband, Brother, Uncle, Public Servant. Born August 15, 1936 in Toronto, died May 26, 2013, in Peterborough, Ont., of complications from vascular dementia, aged 76.
Born into an Irish-Catholic family in Toronto, the eldest of four children of Edward and Helen (nee O’Leary), Bernie knew from an early age that his life would be one of service to others.
He joined the Christian brothers, a lay Catholic religious order, in the early 1950s and remained with them for 12 years, soon finding his vocation as a teacher. He taught in Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan, graduating from Windsor Teachers College in 1962, and later developing expertise in the education of juvenile offenders.
He met his life partner, Jean Lucas, in Downeyville, Ont., and married her there in 1969; that same year, he earned his bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of Windsor.
In the early 1970s, Bernie made the first of many radical career changes, leaving his position at Senator O’Connor College School in Toronto to become a superintendent of corrections – first at the Vanier Centre for Women and later at the Ontario Correctional Institute, both then in Brampton.
In 1980, Bernie went west. He served the Alberta government as director of the young offenders program, as executive director of the professions and occupations bureau, and as assistant deputy minister of health. He was also chief executive officer of the Justice Institute of British Columbia and deputy minister of social services in the Northwest Territories.
In 1996, at a time when many his age would be considering retirement, Bernie took up his greatest challenge: Helping restore confidence in Canada’s blood system following the tainted blood scandal.
As executive director of the Canadian Blood Agency, he led a team that implemented the recommendations of the Krever Inquiry, including the creation of Canadian Blood Services, an entirely new entity that assumed responsibility for the national blood supply outside Quebec.
Throughout his career, Bernie displayed not the slightest interest in personal accolades or in contributing to anything other than the public good. He eschewed gossip and never had a disparaging comment to make about anyone.
Though without children of his own, Bernie was very much invested in the lives of his many nieces and nephews. He also travelled widely with Jean, and remained close with his brothers and sister.
He retired to Peterborough in 1999. A few years later, problems with his short-term memory ultimately led to a diagnosis of vascular dementia. A man of deep faith, Bernie accepted that suffering was part of God’s plan for him and seemed comforted to be entering the final stage of life with Jean by his side. He died peacefully, surrounded by family.
Sean Doyle is a nephew of Bernie Doyle.To submit a Lives Lived: firstname.lastname@example.org
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