The eulogy for Peter Doyle, late of Yass, by his two elder children


Peter Anthony Doyle


The Yass Tribune thanks the Doyle family for sharing their memories of patriarch, Peter, who passed away on June 27.

Our limited print space allowed an excerpt of this eulogy in our July 11 (2018) edition, and we are grateful to publish this in full online.

Peter Doyle, centre back row, with his children and grandchildren. Photo courtesy the Doyle family.

Peter Doyle, centre back row, with his children and grandchildren. Photo courtesy the Doyle family.

Justine Turnbull, daughter

As you may know, my name is Justine Turnbull. I am with my brother, Matthew Doyle, and we will provide some reflections on Dad’s life today on behalf of the family.

We are under strict instructions from Mum and Dad to keep it brief, but just this once we are ignoring their instructions!

Welcome, family and friends, to the celebration of the life of Peter Anthony Doyle. Thank you for joining us.

Dad was a humble man and he would be more humbled by your attendance today.

On behalf of the family I would like to thank everyone who has been so thoughtful and kind over recent weeks and especially in the last week.

We have been much loved, and supported and extremely well-fed, which has helped us to deal with our grief and sadness.

We give thanks and praise to our God for Peter’s life and contributions and on behalf of the family I sincerely thank Father Mick, Dad’s great friend and our tower of strength; Father Charles, Dad’s cousin and friend; Father Bernie, Dad’s school friend from Joeys; and Father Laurier, another friend and our former PP at Yass, for presiding today with friends, Frank Grace and Bob Nash, as acolytes.

I note that we also have Father O’Hurley and Father Krahn in permanent position out the front of the church and I know they’ll be celebrating with us as they both knew Dad very well.

To the family, Dad was known as ‘Pa’ from when our daughter, Imogen, was born in May 1999. As grandparents, Mum and Dad asked to be known as Ma and Pa in honour of their wonderful friends Helen and Neville Shannon.

I hope Neville and Dad are having a whiskey at the Tennis Club in the sky as I speak.

As many of you know Pa gave many eulogies, including Father O’Hurley’s, which was very well received. It was a privilege for him to do so. He took a formal approach to the task and we thought it appropriate that we do the same today.

Matthew Doyle, son

Peter Anthony Doyle was born on the fifth of March, 1939 at Lake Cargelligo in western NSW.

It was 120 degrees Farenheit in the shade that day and his mother Daphne never let him forget that.

Daphne (or Gran as we knew her) was a very proper lady who was always well presented and believed in high standards of behaviour.

Dad inherited these traits and even until a few weeks ago would always shine his shoes and put on a tie to go down the street for an appointment. He always believed it was better to be overdressed than underdressed. And he always valued good manners and common courtesy.

His father Gerry had the pharmacy at the Lake, and Papa, as we knew him, was known to all as a gentleman.

As a son who needed his ears pulled pretty hard from time to time, I didn’t always see the traits of my parents that others did but one day when I was quizzing Dad about the ridiculousness of him buying the Bungendore Pharmacy at 70 years old, he said to me that his greatest reward was helping people: helping the young mum worried about a baby’s rash; helping the old man who was struggling to live alone; helping the widow who was raising a family solo; and even helping injured footballers occasionally.

I finally understood him and I got why he was such a successful and popular pharmacist. It was because he, like his father, was a really nice man.

Many messages we have received over the last six days are from people who remember Dad helping them or welcoming them to Yass. Thank you for those.

This want to help extended to his community contributions, but Justine will talk about that.

Papa, or Gerry Doyle, also liked to have fun and loved to tell a yarn or a joke. Dad also inherited this conviviality and loved to go to and even throw the occasional good party. His 70th at the Manly Golf Club was a notable affair and I promise not to talk for as long as he did that day.

Dad grew up at Lake Cargelligo with his sisters, Sue and Geraldine.

He told stories of fishing in the Lake with his mate Jim Beake, who he and Mum were able to visit in WA a couple of years ago.

They were often in trouble for being out until after dark but would be forgiven when fresh catfish were presented for dinner.

Dad also liked to recount his story of travelling from The Lake to the Junee rugby league carnival. They’d leave Shayman’s Corner at about 4am and stop at West Wyalong for breakfast.

He remembered thinking what a big town West Wyalong was, and how close it was to the coast.

Gerry and Daphne were actively involved in the church and the golf club and this community spirit was something Dad had in spades.

And there has often been a story told about social functions with the Rodd family and other social goings on at the Lake.

Every year Gerry would load the family into the car for the annual summer holiday to Narooma. Although not quite every summer, this tradition continues for my family, at least.

As a kid I have very fond memories with Dad and Papa fishing at the boat shed in Foster’s Bay and going to the beach to battle the often tough Narooma surf.

Dad and Mum had a holiday at Narooma with Imogen and Patrick a few years back and last summer I was able to start teaching my boys to fish off that same jetty.

A legacy of two wise men who knew that simple pleasures could make the best memories.

In 1954 when Dad was away boarding in third form at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, Gerry purchased the pharmacy at Yass from his brother Ernie and the family moved to 5 Shaw Street.

Dad did the leaving certificate in 1956 and matriculated to Sydney University to study pharmacy in the steps of his father.

He worked in various pharmacies around Sydney and then came home to help his Dad in Yass.

His social interest in Sydney continued, particularly toward the Mitchell girls at Wychbury Avenue, Croydon.

Initially his advances were directed towards Moyra, but one day the younger sister answered the door and he must have thought Geraldine the better option, so at Moyra and Barry’s wedding they danced and Dad told her he’d be back in a few years and he was!

Mr and Mrs Doyle were married at Joeys on the second of October, 1967 and shortly after they went to live in the London for two years where they both worked as pharmacists and took time to see Europe in a combi van.

In 1969 they moved to 64 Church Street, Yass and Dad commenced work once again for his father in the pharmacy.

We’ve managed to find a good photo from about this time of Mum and Dad on the roof of the shop where Great Uncle Ernie lived. It’s in the Order of Service today (July 3).

In June 1970, Justine Elizabeth came along and before they knew it I had arrived followed by David Gerald and after a bit of a spell Marea Jane made up the four.

In about 1980, Dad and Mum bought the pharmacy from Gerry and Daphne and set about working for them selves. And work hard they did.

About this time they also bought ‘Riverside’, a 30-acre block just seven minutes from “the shop”.

Here they set about building the home that we are all so proud of today, where Justine, Marea and I all had our weddings.

In 1985 they bought the building next door and expanded the pharmacy to be a prominent corner building.

At this time they also put four kids through boarding school in Sydney, the girls at Loreto, Normanhurst and the boys at Dad’s beloved Joeys.

They were busy.

Occasionally this business led to the odd scrap with his staff and he could be a bit stubborn if you didn’t agree with his ways sometimes.

But he had some long-serving allies as both Keith Kemp and Freda Cooke actually worked in the pharmacy longer than he did and were loyal to retirement and beyond.

Pam Greenwood was another long-serving staff member and she has been at Yass hospital with her own sick father so got to catch up with Dad in the last few weeks.

Dad and Mum were also very gratified that local girl Rachel Bush, and not forgetting to mention Marea Doyle, were inspired to go on and become pharmacists.

And there have been many others pass through as employees of Doyle’s pharmacy and I’m sure the majority enjoyed a positive environment and learnt something to take on in life.

‘Riverside’ continued to evolve and now has one of the most magnificent gardens in the district. A tribute to persistence and attention to detail and a place we love to gather as a family.

The annual surplus from the vege garden always helped us make sure any visitors were eating well and Justine has made it the feature of some fancy looking lower north shore dinner parties. #yass shared on Instagram for all to see.

As we all grew through this busy time Dad made time for a family holiday each year and his love of boating, fishing, waterskiing and swimming in the surf was often the theme.

His love of travel also meant that he and Mum have visited some amazing places around the globe during their 51 year marriage.

A serious vice in his life was that he was quite a passionate supporter of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. But we all have some skeletons don’t we.

This was not all bad as during preparation for retirement he acquired a small seaside unit in Manly. It has given us all a great Sydney base and allowed Dad and Mum to be able to stay close to the girls and their kids and Dad thought that watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race from his own balcony was pretty special.

I was going to speak of his frugality but when I had a good think about it and realised I had no right to do so. There was a lot of hard work and sacrifice and from an early age he was a very disciplined saver and a really disciplined decision maker who never spent more than he earned. I’m hoping I can teach my boys a bit about this concept of delayed gratification.

The reward for this was an accumulation of assets to provide a full life and the ability to be extremely generous in recent years as he has helped the whole family prosper, and his legacy is that his children and grandchildren and his community all benefit from the good habits by which he lived his life.

He may have taken the accumulation of assets a little far at times, though: my shearing shed, the storeroom above the shop and several other spaces are full of things he would not throw away in case they became useful again some day, like the counters from the original Doyle’s Pharmacy, and his grandfather’s tools.

As we say goodbye to him today we reflect on some experiences and what is important for us to remember.

He played golf on some of the best courses in the world, from St Andrew’s in Scotland to Scottsdale, Arizona, but had just as much fun playing a few holes at ‘Royal’ Yass with his grandkids, only a month ago having a hit with Sean and giving him a few lessons that he will remember forever.

He cruised the Mediterranean in huge luxurious ships, but loved belting the old Haines Hunter from Good Hope to Burrinjuck and sharing his local knowledge along the way.

He has caught salmon under the midnight sun on the inside passage of Alaska but didn’t talk about that nearly as much as the day he took Archie fishing in Coles Bay in Tasmania and caught a bucket full of leatherjacket that they had for dinner that night.

He went to Twickenham to watch the Wallabies beat England in the World Cup semi-final in 2015, he told me the best part was that Sam, Justine, Imogen and Patrick were with him.

He has stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach but found just as much pleasure at the Narooma Caravan park with Imogen and Patrick.

He loved a really nice seafood meal and went to some very nice restaurants but he also made the time to take Xavier and Rory into his vege garden where they picked carrots and beans and zucchini and squash and took these inside to prepare them for dinner.

Grandparents day with Liam and Ciara at their school in Forestville and Book Week with Xavier at Mt Carmel have also allowed Dad to leave some nice memories with the kids.

As recently as the long weekend in June, Dad spent time with the youngest family member, Heidi, drawing pictures and helping her to sticky tape them to the family room wall which he enjoyed as much as attending the Archibald exhibition at the Art Gallery in Sydney.

Reading Banjo Paterson poetry was also always a favourite activity with grandchildren for Pa.


At the risk of repeating what’s been published in recent days, I’d like to mention some of the community contributions that Pa made but with a little more inside information.

As Matt has mentioned, Pa was brought into the Catholic faith by his parents, and this was incredibly strong, until the day he died he believed in the primacy of God and the sanctity of life.

His faith was definitely cemented by his time at his beloved Joeys, St Joseph’s College in Hunter’s Hill. He attended as his Father had and as Matthew and David and my son, Paddy, have.

The Marists, and particularly Dad’s lifelong friend Brother Othmar, instilled in Pa compassion, integrity and a commitment to the common good.

The school’s motto is In Meliora Contende – To Strive for Better Things, and that is what Pa always did.

Joeys also gave Pa his love of rugby which never waned, the last time we took him to the Park at Joeys after visiting the renovated chapel in May he was absolutely delighted to see Paddy play in the Joeys second XV and resoundingly beat Riverview, ‘or that other school over the hill’ as he referred to it.

When he played at Joeys, Pa was the fly half and goal kicker and told us many times about breaking bones but continuing to play on on No 1.

Unfortunately, his rugby career for the Yass Rams was short due to a nasty injury to his back early on but he loved the game all his life. Pa also loved rowing from his time at Joeys and we all know the story of his third IV winning the HoR in 1956.

When Pa moved back to Yass after qualifying as a pharmacist, as well as joining the YGC and playing with his great mate John Lachlan, he joined Apex at the suggestion of Alfred McCarthy.

He told me only recently how much he enjoyed that time with Apex. It was about community, service and friendships, he said, and he recalled fondly working with Alfred, John Garety, Norm Napier, Bernie Crowe and others.

His time with Apex led Dad to local government where he dedicated many, many hours over almost 15 years to the Yass district in several roles including shire president and mayor.

This was not just attendance at meetings but attendance at many events in Yass every week as well as countless calls, meetings and ‘chats in the street’ with Yass people about every aspect of their lives.

As part of Yass Council, Pa was instrumental in building tourism in Yass. He chaired the committee that built the Tourist Information Centre, although he sure didn’t get the attraction of the recent visit to town of the US program Queer Eye!

In addition to being involved in local government and Apex Pa also spent time as a member of and managing aspects of the Yass Lawn Tennis Club, the Yass Golf Club and St Augustine’s.

Only he can confirm this, but we think he was the Parish Finance Director for over 50 years.

He derived much satisfaction from these activities and had a bit of fun along the way. He also contributed huge time and effort to the Yass Aged Care Foundation from which the town will benefit for many decades to come.

Pa also contributed in many other ways that he would definitely not want me to share. Suffice to say he was always observant and generous and, as Mary Dunstan said to me last week, there is a special place for him in heaven today.

Ma is a pharmacist and was Pa’s partner in life and the business. Her unlimited energy and tenacity enabled him to make the community contributions that he did, as well as her own contributions, which continue.

In fact, it is safe to say that Pa was never ever troubled by washing, ironing, cooking cleaning or babies’ nappies!

I recall him asking Ma when David, as a bachelor, bought a little house in Hobart – who was going to ‘spring clean’ David’s house.

It was a credit to both Ma and Pa in recent weeks when the locals managed to outsmart the State Health system to keep Dad in Yass Hospital where he wanted to be rather than a palliative care centre in Canberra.

Thank you to the doctors, nurses and other staff at the YDH who cared for him so kindly over the last few weeks. It made so much difference to him and Ma.


So Peter Anthony Doyle, Dad, Pa, if you are looking down on us today you can be very pleased with way you lived your life, all you have achieved and contributed, and all you have left behind.

We are sad that you are gone, but we celebrate that fact that you did have a wonderful life and we have much gratitude to have been part of it.