James Joseph Doyle Jr., a retired lobbyist and attorney who was once one of the most well-known figures in Annapolis, died of pneumonia complications Thursday at Sinai Hospital. The Pasadena resident was 81.
Among his many clients were area newspapers for which he was an advocate for open public meetings and access to public records.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton, he attended St. Dominic's Parochial School and was a 1944 Polytechnic Institute graduate. During World War II, he enlisted in the Army's Air Corps and served in the occupation of Germany.
He later attended Loyola College and the Baltimore Community College before gaining his law degree at the University of Maryland in 1954. That year, he was admitted to the Maryland bar and joined a law firm in downtown Baltimore that became known as Sherbow, Shea and Doyle. At retirement he was the senior partner in the firm of Doyle and Craig.
Family members said Mr. Doyle became highly regarded for the five-decade period in which he lobbied before the Maryland General Assembly.
"Always deal in candor and truth. At least that way you have longevity," he said in a 1981 Sun article, when he outlined a lobbyist's techniques. "If legislators find out you have lied to them, you are dead."
A 1981 Evening Sun editorial described him as "the top lobbyist in Annapolis. Always impeccably dressed, [he] shoots his cuffs, nearly always displaying a large, expensive pair of cuff links. He always stands when testifying on a measure. He is treated with deference by legislators. His testimony is usually brief, lucid, pungent. He is the widely acknowledged King of Clout."
Mr. Doyle introduced himself, saying, "My name is Jim Doyle -- an attorney from Baltimore."
"He was a classic gentleman. You could respect his arguments and of all the advocates I knew in Annapolis, he was the very best," said former Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. "He knew his subjects and spoke with authority."
"Back in the 1970s, he was certainly one of the most recognized lobbyists out there," said political commentator Frank DeFilippo, who served in the administration of Gov. Marvin Mandel. "He was a real straight arrow."
Among Mr. Doyle's clients were WBAL Radio and TV, and the old News American, the afternoon Hearst newspaper, which involved him in First Amendment issues, labor contracts and disputes and general civil litigation. He sought to keep governmental meetings and records open to the public.
"He was truly a man of integrity, tough-minded, honest and enormous fun to work with," said Carol Melamed of Chevy Chase, who is retired from The Washington Post as a vice president of government affairs. "He had a amazing political and tactical sense."
According to a biography prepared by his family, he also represented insurance companies, utilities, manufacturing and service corporations, financial and credit organizations and racetracks.
"These activities bought him more notoriety than he desired," said his brother, Leo "Corky" Doyle of Crofton.
Mr. Doyle was a reader and enjoyed golf at the Hillendale Country Club, where he served as president for two consecutive years. He and his wife were patrons of Center Stage, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Meyerhoff, Lyric and Hippodrome.
He had retired with his wife, the former Clementina Lewendowski, to Sunset Beach in Anne Arundel County. His family said he never tired of expressing his affection for the city or extolling its virtues.
A Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church, 8499 Virginia Ave. in Pasadena, where he was a member.
In addition to his wife and brother, survivors include three sons, James Joseph Doyle III of Baltimore, Terrence Doyle of Catonsville and Henry Doyle of West Franklin, N.H.; a daughter, Lori Doyle of Timonium; another brother, Lawrence Thomas Doyle of Carney; a sister, Dolores Mary "Dolly" Rizzi of White Marsh; and four grandchildren. A previous marriage ended in divorce.