Edward A. Doehler, 94, Loyola College professor

January 16, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Edward A. Doehler, who joined the faculty of Loyola College as the school's only history professor and taught there for 55 years, died Monday at the Stella Maris rehabilitation center in Timonium of complications after surgery for a perforated ulcer. He was 94.

Dr. Doehler was the oldest living alumnus of Loyola High School, where he graduated in 1926, his wife said. Four years later, he graduated from Loyola College, and in 1996 he received the college's highest honor - an honorary doctorate.

For decades of Loyola College students, the answer to "Did you have Doehler?" was "Yes."

"He was just Loyola through and through," said Michael J. Goff, the college's vice president for development and college relations. "From his boyhood days until the end of his life, he was involved in Loyola every year except one."

It wasn't uncommon, friends said, for someone who looked older than Dr. Doehler to approach him at a restaurant to discuss a grade he gave in the 1930s. Often, they said, the professor would remember his former student.

Before moving to a residence at Stella Maris in 1996, Dr. Doehler lived for many years at the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore, and spent time at a restored log cabin near Hereford.

For 37 years, he was married to the former Catherine Byrne, a mortgage banker.

"He dearly worshipped the ground that she walked on," said Jenkins Cromwell, who has known Dr. Doehler for 40 years. "They made a beautiful team."

Dr. Doehler was born in New York City and moved to Baltimore with his family as a 3-year-old.

After graduating from Loyola College, he left the school for one year to earn his master's in history at Georgetown University. He returned to Loyola as its only history professor from 1931 to 1947. He was one of the college's first teachers who was not a Jesuit priest, Dr. Goff said.

Dr. Doehler attended Georgetown University while he taught at Loyola, earning a doctorate in history in 1935.

Friends said he had a personal teaching style, lacing his lessons with anecdotes and photos from his travels. Though he was trained in medieval history, he became known for his knowledge of Latin American history - including research conducted on pre-Columbian native cultures and the modern problems of countries there.

Dr. Doehler joined the faculty at Mount St. Agnes College in 1947 and taught there until 1971, while also teaching at Loyola's evening college. He recently received the Mount St. Agnes Alumnae Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

Upon leaving Mount St. Agnes, he rejoined the history faculty at Loyola, where he taught until 1986.

"I am confident his legacy here at Loyola will long remain for his distinguished achievements and devotion to his alma mater," said Loyola's president, the Rev. Harold Ridley.

Dr. Doehler, named a professor emeritus, was a former alumni association president, received the medal given to outstanding alumni and was president of the alumni club for graduates of more than 50 years. In that role, he was known for writing dozens of personal letters to members.

Whenever a history department job candidate arrived at Loyola, professors made sure he met Dr. Doehler.

"He had kind of a light that shone out of his eyes," said John Breihan, chairman of the history department. "It was quite usual after speaking with [Dr. Doehler] that you felt better about yourself."

Dr. Doehler was a member of several historical and church groups, including the Knights of Malta. He was one of the original members of the Serra Club of Baltimore, a Catholic organization that promotes vocations for the priesthood.

He also loved music. For his 94th birthday, his wife bought him a ukulele.

Since 1990, Dr. Doehler had served as a board member on the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust - the group directing the restoration of the nation's first Roman Catholic cathedral. Others involved in the project said it played to four of his strongest passions - history, Baltimore, architecture and the Catholic Church. Trust executive vice president Robert J. Lancelotta Jr. said Dr. Doehler was the group's "wise adviser."

The restoration is scheduled to be completed in 2006.

A funeral Mass was offered Wednesday at Stella Maris.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Doehler is survived by two nieces.

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