Donald Pyle, M.D.
AGE: 88 • Jersey City
Donald Pyle, M.D., originally of Jersey City, New Jersey, died of complications from pneumonia on November 20, 2012. Dr. Pyle died peacefully in his sleep in Lake Oswego, Oregon, while surrounded by family. He was eighty-eight years old. Dr. Pyle was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the third of four brothers: William, Louis, Donald, and Norman. Dr. Pyle attended Newark Academy for secondary school. He also commuted to New York City on Saturdays to study music, with a focus on jazz piano, in the rigorous pre-college program at the Julliard School. In the summers, Dr. Pyle learned to fish in the mountains of northwest New Jersey. Fishing and jazz piano would become his lifelong passions. Although he was a gifted pianist, Dr. Pyle was determined to study medicine like his father, grandfather, and uncle before him. After high school, he attended Princeton University
. During his sophomore year, he married Mary Jane Hanson, also from Jersey City. Soon thereafter, the couple had their first daughter, Sara. World War II
had now begun and Dr. Pyle was permitted to skip his last year at Princeton and go directly to medical school. He attended Cornell Medical College in Manhattan and completed his residency at Long Branch Hospital in New Jersey. In 1948, Mary Jane gave birth to their second daughter, Mary Lou. In 1949, Dr. Pyle entered the Army
Medical Corps and was posted with his family to Fukuoka, Japan, to serve in a hospital for the American occupation forces. While he was in Japan, the Korean War
erupted and Dr. Pyle began treating wounded American soldiers evacuated from Korea. The Pyles' third child, Donald, was born in Fukuoka. In 1951, Dr. Pyle was discharged from the Army as a Captain. The Pyles returned to the United States and moved to Pt. Pleasant, New Jersey, to set up a medical practice. They soon bought a historic home built in the 1870s on the Manasquan River, and converted part of the home's first floor into his medical office. He also became affiliated with Pt. Pleasant Hospital, a short bike ride down the road. At the hospital, Dr. Pyle assisted in establishing a state-of-the-art cardiac care unit. He would later serve as chief-of-staff. During the following years, Dr. Pyle's family grew to include two more children: Barbara and William. Dr. Pyle's medical practice also expanded, but his love remained fishing. He often woke in the predawn hours to cast a line in the river or ocean, before taking his rounds at the hospital. In 1985, after a vacation to the blue-ribbon trout fishing waters of Yellowstone National Park, the Pyles purchased land and built a log cabin on Hebgen Lake just outside the town of West Yellowstone, Montana. After retiring in the 1990s, Dr. Pyle and Mary Jane moved to Melbourne Beach, Florida, another home chosen for its proximity to great fishing. The Pyles were snowbirds, wintering in Florida and summering in Montana. In 2003, after sixty years of marriage, Mary Jane died of complications from lung cancer. Several years later, Dr. Pyle moved to Oregon, near his son Donald's house. In his final years, Dr. Pyle struggled with progressive dementia.
Dr. Pyle is survived by his children, Sara, Mary Lou, Donald, Barbara, and William. He was also the proud grandfather of Vanessa, Timothy, Anne, Nicholas, Alexander, Lelia, and Wesley, and the proud great-grandfather of Lucia, Conor, Benjamin, and Joya.
A memorial service for Dr. Pyle was held on November 24, 2012 at River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be sent to The Nature Conservancy, Attn: Treasury (web/memorial giving) 4245 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203, USA (http://my.nature.org/donate/memorial-giving.html
), or the
, P.O. Box 9601, Washington, DC 20090-6011.