Dr. Maurice James Coyle (1936 - 2017)

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Dr. Maurice James Coyle died peacefully on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, surrounded by family, at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska, an institution he helped build. A loving husband, father and grandfather, Maury leaves a legacy of caring, visionary leadership as a physician, mentor, community leader, entrepreneur and Alaskan.
Maury was born on April 24, 1936, in St. Louis, Mo., to Marie (nee Gross) and Dr. Maurice Coyle Sr., the second of five children. He attended Campion Jesuit High School in Prairie du Chien, Wis., where he excelled in academics and baseball. He went on to attend St. Louis University for undergraduate and medical schools. He completed his internship and two years of internal medicine residency at St. Louis City Hospital and Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. He then returned to St. Louis University for a four-year residency in radiology.
In January 1963, while working in the emergency department at St. Louis City Hospital, Maury met the love of his life, nurse Agnes Kuhl. Three months later, during an evening walk in the rain, Maury proposed. When Agnes said yes, he delightedly threw his umbrella into the air, where, in a moment worthy of Gene Kelly, it caught in the branches of a tree. They married in June, and spent their honeymoon camping throughout the West. So began a 54-year romance filled with adventure, celebration, friendship and love - plus three boys, Maurice, Dan and Jon, born in quick succession.
In 1968, Maury enlisted in the U.S. Public Health Service. He and Agnes chose Anchorage for his two-year term of service at the Alaska Native Medical Center. The family spent their first weeks in town living at the Mush-Inn Motel, and ate their first meal at the Lucky Wishbone. They fell in love with Anchorage and decided to stay.
Maury's 1970 move to Providence Hospital marked the beginning of a signature pattern: spotting possibilities, building relationships and making good things happen. In 1974, Maury established Alaska's first mammography service. The same year, Maury learned of modern grayscale ultrasound, which was being developed in Australia. Maury and Agnes moved their family to Sydney, where he trained with the technology. In 1976, he established Alaska's first ultrasound service.
In 1978, Maury established the first whole-body computerized tomography (CT) scanning service in the American Northwest. This advance in technology allowed physicians to see into the body to diagnose and guide treatment in unprecedented ways. In 1984, Maury began a one-year fellowship in Interventional Radiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Thanks to this training, he was able to perform the first-ever angioplasty in Alaska, and thus introduce an entire field of minimally invasive treatment at Providence. In 1986, Maury visualized and designed the Providence Imaging Center as the state's first outpatient imaging center. The PIC has gone on to serve thousands of Alaskans, and has become a cornerstone of Providence health care.
One of his most significant contributions was the Providence Cancer Center. For years, Maury had watched as Alaskans were forced to travel out of state for their cancer treatments, leaving family and friends. In the early 2000s, Maury conceived of and helped bring together the people, funds and community support to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art cancer care in Alaska. Providence Cancer Center opened in 2008, and continues to provide Alaskans with world-class health care close to home.
Maury also served as Chief of Staff at Providence, Chairman of Credentials Committee, Member of the Executive Committee, Radiology Department Chairman, Providence Advisory Board member, Providence Regional Board member and member of the Cancer Center Advisory Committee. He also designed and obtained a patent for a radiological tool that allowed physicians to examine patients without obscuring the image with lead gloves.
With his vision and leadership, Maury came to be seen as the father of radiology in Alaska. According to Dr. John Hall, a prominent physician and longtime friend: "You had your breast cancer diagnosed and treated early with ultrasound and radiation? Thank Dr. Coyle. You had a CT scan of your chest that detected a blood clot and led to definitive treatment and recovery? Thank Dr. Coyle. You had your early stroke warnings confirmed and treated, leading to a normal, functional outcome? Thank Dr. Coyle."
In addition to his work at Providence, Maury co-founded PC Inc., a health-care billing service company. He conceived and edited a weekly medical column in the Anchorage Times, served as a board member of Catholic Charities, participated in the Anchorage Medical Society and served as a board member of Turnagain Arts Center and the Anchorage Concert Association. In 1991, he became a director of First National Bank of Alaska, a position he held for more than 25 years.
Maury's instinct to explore, create and build extended far beyond his professional life. In 1976, he and Agnes purchased a cabin on Kachemak Bay that quickly became a beloved gathering place for generations of family and friends. He took great pleasure in fishing, pinochle tournaments, Agnes's blueberry pancakes, spending time with neighbors and especially directing projects there, building docks, boardwalks and bunkhouses. What Maury loved most, however, was celebrating with friends, especially on the Fourth of July, where he always led the crowd in his favorite songs, "It's a Grand Old Flag" and "The Alaska Flag Song."
Growing up in St. Louis, Maury's family often spent evenings singing together. His love of music came to the fore after he retired from medicine. In 2000, he released his first album, Just What the Doctor Ordered, followed by Vital Signs (2002) and Ultra Sounds (2010). Proceeds from the sale of his music went to the Children's Hospital at Providence.
Maury's love for music was equaled only by his passion for golf - and for honing his game. The two came together in 1994, when his four-person team won the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., with a score of 20 under par. Seven years later, Maury scored a hole-in-one on the 170-yard 17th hole at Settlers Bay Golf Course; he also co-founded Full Swing Golf of Alaska in Anchorage.
Even more than his many accomplishments, Maury will be remembered for his genius at creating and nurturing relationships. As a husband, father, colleague, mentor, advisor and friend, he always brought out the best in people, lifting them to achieve things that they might never have thought possible.
Maury is survived by his wife, Agnes; his children, Maurice (John Giuggio), Daniel (Jenny Coyle) and Jonathan (Marian Jones); as well as his grandchildren, Aidan, McKayla, Rosie, Katie, Seamus, Lia, Zoe and honorary grandchild, Jacob Jones. He was preceded in death by his sister, Jean Crowley; and survived by sisters, Margaret Byrne (Larry), Patty Heidger (Bill) and Cathy Marsh (Charlie).
Family and friends will gather to celebrate Maury's life at St. Anthony Catholic Church, 825 Klevin Street in Anchorage, at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. A reception will follow at the Hotel Captain Cook. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to St. Anthony Catholic Church or Catholic Social Services.
Arrangements are with Janssen's Evergreen Memorial Chapel.
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Published in Anchorage Daily News on Aug. 27, 2017
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