Dr. Paul J. Coyle

Dr. Paul J. Coyle (Baltimore Sun / September 1, 2011)

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Paul Joseph Coyle, a retired board-certified Baltimore County public school psychologist who earlier had been a teacher, died Saturday of lung cancer at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.

The Bel Air resident was 78.

The son of a textile mill superintendent and a homemaker, Dr. Coyle was born in Central Falls, R.I., and raised in Lincoln, R.I.

After graduating in 1950 from St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, R.I., he earned a bachelor's degree in 1954 from Providence College.

In 1960, he earned a master's degree in psychology from the University of Rhode Island, and he earned a doctorate in psychology from Vanderbilt University in 1966.

Dr. Coyle was a teacher and guidance counselor in Lincoln, R.I., public schools before moving to Joppa in 1966, when he went to work as a school psychologist for Baltimore County public schools.

During his more than three-decade career, Dr. Coyle mainly worked at county schools in Essex, Dundalk, Middle River and Middleborough.

"We all had multiple schools, and he handled about five schools. He was at Chesapeake High School for a long time," said Claire F. McCaig, who is a Baltimore County public school psychologist.

In addition to working as a school psychologist, Dr. Coyle had maintained a private practice in Harford County for more than 40 years. During the 1970s, he taught psychology at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and what is now Loyola University Maryland.

"I first got to know him when I was a student at Notre Dame in the 1970s and later at Loyola where he was my adviser. That's about 40 years ago," said Ms. McCaig.

"What you always noticed about Paul was that he was very low-key, kind, caring and never ruffled. He was even-keeled, efficient and thorough. School parents respected him," said Ms. McCaig.

"I remember him telling me that in private practice, patients would sometimes bring him brownies. They couldn't pay, but he counseled them anyway and this is how he was paid," she said.

Even though he had been retired since 1999, Dr. Coyle still continued attending departmental staff meetings.

"Paul also remained on the substitute list and would come back to school if someone were out on maternity leave or for some other reason," she said. "People loved having him around because he was so easygoing and nice. He was just a really nice person."

Cornelius J. "Neal" Feehley, a retired Baltimore County public school psychologist, was also a friend and colleague.

"Paul was a gentleman, had a good sense of humor and worked well with people," said Dr. Feehley, who retired in the 1990s. "He was one of the first in Baltimore County that was trained as a school psychologist. He did a marvelous job, and the schools liked his work."

Dr. Coyle was a member of the Maryland Psychological Association.

"He was an avid golfer and skier," said his wife of 55 years, the former Lynn Thomas, a retired psychiatric nurse, who said they met at a YMCA dance in Pawtucket.

"Paul also was a runner and was a member of the Maryland Golf and Country Club," she said.

"He always was talking about his grandchildren. His family was the center of his life," said Ms. McCaig.

Dr. Coyle was a communicant of St. Frances de Sales Roman Catholic Church, 1450 Abingdon Road in Abingdon, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday.

He is also survived

by a son, Kevin P. Coyle of Ashburn, Va.; two daughters, Kathy A. Cwieka of Baltimore and Karen C. Dietrick of Wellington, Fla.; a sister, Cynthia M. Coyle of Lincoln, R.I.; and six grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com