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Robert G. Doerfler, longtime coach

ChristianityRoman CatholicismLoyola University ChicagoPope FrancisJohns Hopkins University

Robert G. Doerfler, a retired insurance salesman and veteran soccer coach who accompanied the Archbishop Curley High School soccer team to Europe, died Thursday of liver and pancreatic cancer at his Mayfield home. He was 84.

"Bob lived and enjoyed a full life of giving and sharing and also giving good counsel," said Monsignor William E. Burke, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Mayfield, where Mr. Doerfler had been a longtime communicant.

"He was a first-class husband, father and grandfather. He was a wonderful member of our parish and was one of two of our incorporators. He also had a great coaching career at Mercy High School and Archbishop Curley High School," said Monsignor Burke.

The son of a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad shop worker and a homemaker, Robert Gerard Doerfler was born at home at 137 S. Catherine St. and was raised on Bayonne Avenue in Hamilton.

After graduating in 1946 from Mount St. Joseph High School in Irvington, Mr. Doerfler went to work for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., where he became an auditor in the finance department.

He later graduated from the Johns Hopkins University's McCoy College with a degree in accounting.

In 1955, he joined Pacific Mutual Insurance Co. as an agent. He received his chartered life underwriter degree from the American College of Underwriters in 1966.

Mr. Doerfler married the former Margaret "Peg" Steinkamp, and later moved to a home in Mayfield, where they raised their nine children.

In the 1960s, he became active with Boy Scout Troop 94 at the Shrine of the Little Flower.

Active in sports, Mr. Doerfler coached his children in baseball, softball and soccer, and coached junior varsity and varsity soccer at Archbishop Curley. He also was instrumental in establishing the soccer program in 1982 at Mercy, where he also coached the varsity softball team.

The Catholic League coaches named Mr. Doerfler Coach of the Year for softball in 1991 and for soccer in 1994. He retired from coaching in 1999.

At Archbishop Curley, he was assistant soccer team coach when the team traveled to Poland, the Netherlands, Germany and France in 1975. He was junior varsity coach when the team won an A Conference championship in 1978.

The Rev. Joseph A. Sellinger, former president of what is now Loyola University Maryland, asked Mr. Doerfler if he would help organize and coach the Women's Soccer Club team, which was the forerunner of today's women's varsity soccer team at Loyola.

In addition to his various coaching responsibilities, Mr. Doerfler was a co-founder of the Father's Club at Mercy High School.

"He and his wife, Peg, have had the longest continuing relationship with Mercy High School. Their oldest daughter was in the first class at Mercy in 1960, and now they have a granddaughter who is in the freshman class," said Sister Carol E. Wheeler, a Sister of Mercy, who retired last year from the Northeast Baltimore School, where she had been head of school for 34 years.

"What a man! Bob's contributions to Mercy are legendary. At my invitation he and James I. Brown co-founded the Father's Club in 1979, and Bob was its first president," said Sister Carol. "He was very active with the club and got it going very early on."

Sister Carol said that even when Mr. and Mrs. Doerfler had no daughters enrolled at Mercy, they continued to support the school.

"'Generosity' is a word I would use to describe him. He was an outgoing man and always wanted to help," she said. "He was a very dear friend of the school and I consider him a friend of many, many years, and we shared many happy occasions together."

At Archbishop Curley, he had been chair of the tuition, finance and membership committees.

Mr. Doerfler was equally active at his church, where he had been head usher and served on the finance committee.

"He enjoyed being head usher and once a year would gather the other ushers for beer and pretzels," said Monsignor Burke. "And when he was no longer able to traipse up the aisle, he would oversee the operation from a back pew."

Monsignor Burke said that Mr. Doerfler enjoyed the parish's annual crab feasts.

"I think he still holds the parish record for eating crabs. He could really put them away," he said.

"I really got to know him when we moved to Mayfield in 1997. As I jogged around Lake Montebello, Bob would walk, rehabbing after what I believe was a hip replacement," said Paul McMullen, a former Sun sports reporter who is now editor of The Catholic Review.

"We would visit and talk about politics, fatherhood and everything under the sun. Walking around the lake, he recruited me to join the Knights of Columbus," said Mr. McMullen. "He was a great listener and salesman."

Monsignor Burke said that Mr. Doerfler enjoyed sitting on the porch of his Kentucky Avenue home, observing passers-by.

"He was a very familiar figure for years walking around Lake Montebello, where he worked on his tan, and when he was on his porch watching the world go by," he said.

He was a charter member of the Little Flower Council of the Knights of Columbus, where he had been grand knight, trustee, treasurer and recorder.

Mr. Doerfler was a longtime member and former gasogene of the Six Napoleons, a Baltimore Sherlock Holmes society. He also enjoyed traveling and collecting coins and stamps.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at his church, Harford Road and Pelham Avenue.

Mr. Doerfler is survived by his wife of 60 years; two sons, Robert G. Doerfler Jr. of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Joseph P. Doerfler of Timonium; six daughters, Margaret Malanowski of Kansas City, Mo., Teresa Hekkers of Colorado Springs, Kathy Burdyck of Perry Hall, Marie Knode of Owings Mills, Suzanne Kalthof of Bel Air and Nancy Finnessy of Carney; 20 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Christine Doerfler, was murdered in 1988.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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