John Carroll Doyle
1942 - 2014
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John Carroll Doyle CHARLESTON - John Carroll Doyle, 71, noted artist, photographer, and writer (including this obituary) ended his journey on this earth Wednesday, November 12, 2014. John was born and raised in Charleston, and was often heard to say that our city was perfect for an artist with its "golden light and long lavender shadows." John started drawing at the age of four on the margins of Sunday church programs. This became a lifetime artistic, as well as spiritual quest, that took him through alcohol and drug addiction, being physically and sexually abused, bouts with anxiety and depression, along with rehabilitation through Love. John grew up on his beloved Trumbo Street near Colonial Lake. To his young eyes, the lake was an ocean where gleaming silver fish jumped and model boats sailed on wondrous voyages. These model boats and leaping fish were the seed for John's later paintings of majestic billfish and vintage fishing boats. In the summer months when the dreaded school year ended (John said because of his difficulty reading he hated school), he, with his buddies Jay Keenan and Johnny Almeida, would venture to some of Charleston's wonders. These included the old City Yacht Basin beckoning with its polished wooden boats, The Charleston Museum (then on Rutledge Avenue) with displays of skeletons and taxidermy including a colossal Polar Bear, and the old Public Library located on Rutledge Avenue at the corner of Montagu Street. At the library there was a wonderful lady who read to children sitting on the floor around her as she voiced stories of long ago with a repertoire of emotions. And of course King Street, with its Five and Dime stores, artistic neon signs, and luxurious movie theaters that held the magic of a miniature Times Square. Due to his painful experience in school, John would later challenge the idea of dyslexia as a dysfunction. As a young student he saw the printed page in the same way he composed a painting or designed an interior with furniture. He saw the painting or room as a completed whole and the printed page was no different-he saw the first and last words at the same time. School was a daily torture and became the primary root of his substance addiction. It wasn't that he didn't see enough, he saw everything. He used alcohol as "novocaine" to deaden his anxiety and depression for twenty five years until he surrendered and began following the teachings of the 12 Steps. With sobriety, John became known in the 1980's for his paintings in institutions such as Porgy's, 82 Queen, Plums, Carolina's, Tommy Condon's, A.W. Shucks, Angelfish, and Sermet's, as well as works in Chicago, Alexandria, VA and various buildings throughout South Carolina. He also painted covers for several magazines including Marlin, Saltwater Sportsman, Sporting Classics, Plantation Polo, and Gamefish located in Paris. His last magazine cover was the Fall 2014 edition of the nationally distributed Charleston Style & Design magazine. John served two years aboard the Coast Guard Buoy Tender Smilax. Later in his life, after he became a renowned artist, he was honored to meet the Commandant of the Coast Guard. John was also a walk-on defensive end at Presbyterian College, serving on the Scout Team. John wrote an autobiography about being raised in Charleston speaking for the generation of the 50's and 60's. Among many accolades, John received the Order of the Palmetto from Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. in 1994. He was listed among Charleston's notables in the recent book "Legendary Locals." John was an accomplished photographer, publishing two volumes of black and white photos in praise of women. For three years he built wooden boats with the help of his friend Whitmarsh Smith. John volunteered to be a subject in an MUSC study on agoraphobia; the fear of crowds. His "fear" of crowds never went away because he later learned that he was just an introvert. From then on, he championed the cause of introverts saying that they were not at all shy, but would charge their batteries while alone rather than having them drained amongst crowds. John consistently donated paintings to numerous charities such as the Center for Birds of Prey, the American Heart Association Heart Ball, Darkness to Light, Pet Helpers, and the Charleston Symphony. John never married, but he would say that he had over 900 children in the form of the paintings he left behind, hoping to make this world a better place than when he first arrived on Trumbo Street. In lieu of flowers, John's wish is that you go out and buy something nice for yourself. Something not practical, but something just for fun. Wherever he is, this will make him smile. A gathering of friends will be held Tuesday, November 18 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the John Carroll Doyle Gallery, 125 Church Street. A black-tie Celebration of Life will be announced and will occur in mid-January. Arrangements by J. HENRY STUHR, INC., DOWNTOWN CHAPEL. A memorial message may be sent to the family by visiting our website at Visit our guestbook at charleston

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Charleston Post & Courier from Nov. 14 to Nov. 15, 2014.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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50 entries
March 11, 2016
I am 68 years old and have always admired the God-given talent he has been blessed with. My passion is art and browsing through his beautiful works of art, I realized he had passed. My prayers are with you and he will always be remembered. I am sure he is at peace with the Lord. God bless. I am from Trinidad and Tobago.
Joyce Dickson
November 30, 2015
mary edens
October 15, 2015
I cannot believe it's almost been a year since we lost you, sweet mentor and friend. Thank you for seeing the light in people and making so many vulnerable artistic souls feel better from your courage and council about emotional survival.

You are so loved and missed and considered a Lowcountry Legend by the SO manny people you connected with via truth, and vulnerability and beautiful art. -AB
Annie Boxell
August 12, 2015
I knew John in Charleston High School. He sat in front of me in Latin and we were in typing class together. I had the worst crush on him. I never saw him again after high school, but I knew he had become a well known artist. I come back to Charleston every few years and I always go by his studio. You will be remembered.
Brenda Coe
July 7, 2015
My name is Carolyn Gatch Mullis Johnny is my 2nd cousin on my Dad's side of the family. I have so many fond memories growing up and playing with Johnny on Trumbo Street and of course around Colonial Lake. I have not seen Johnny in many years and I'm so sorry to hear if his passing.
Carolyn Gatch Mullis
28103 Perdido Bch.,Blvd.,Caribe
1107 B
Orange Bch., Alabama, 36561
May 16, 2015
John and I met about 35 years ago And became quick friends. As friends lives sometimes do, our's went in different directions. This happens when one of two gets married. John and I continued to work together however, doing something that John just loved to do! He would often play my "significant other" in Charleston TV commercials for Kerrison's Dept. Store. What a super actor he was! He was talented in so many ways .... and so generous! I asked him to donate a painting to a local Charity here in Charleston to be used to auction off during a children's telethon to raise money for them. He didn't just take something from his inventory but he painted something that was just fitting called, " Born To Win". It was of a mare and her colt. It was fantastic and took him a good while to paint. Someone in Charleston won it and luckily for me, she sold it about 15 yrs. ago. When I saw it in the paper, I bought it immediately! It was like it was meant to be!!
About 6 months before he died, John called me.
He asked me to lunch. I knew he had something on his mind so I said yes. After the obligatory small talk on both sides... He asked me the most unusual question, and he asked me for advise. I never thought of myself as an expert on the subject at hand,mbut I gave him my honest opinion. After a discussion, we promised to stay in touch. That would be the last time I would ever see him again. The great part is , he will always live on in his body of work. A fantastic artist, philanthropist, and human being. Charleston just won't be the same without you.
Mayor Riley? John's given so much to Charleston. He helped to put it on the map. Might there be something Charleston might do for John? I think it would be a fitting tribute to one of Charleston's own.
Nancy Elliott
February 3, 2015
John once told me, back in the early 1980's, that "retirement of an artist is never thought of. You paint until you drop, until the last bit of artistic drive has gone from your body." Then, after some contemplation, he added, "My best work is the next one. Whether you are an oil painting artist, a blacksmith, or cabinetmaker, it seems that your next piece of creation is always going to be the best you've done so far." I imagine John standing now, in front of a canvas filled with lavender streaks and shadows, patiently waiting for the perfect ray of golden light. Paint on, John. And thank you for the gifts you've so selflessly shared.
Bev Moss Haedrich
January 14, 2015
Two months have passed since you left us, John, and I wish I could have been there with you. You were such an inspiration to me and a teacher of the highest calling. I printed and designed your first book, JOHN CARROLL DOYLE, PORTRAIT OF A CHARLESTON ARTIST! What an adventure that was! Sorting photos, discussing text and trying to cull all your stories to place in the book. It won many awards and I consider it the best work I ever produced. Attached is a photo of a painting you painted for me, "Casa Italia, Lamporecchio, ITALY. I think this is the only painting you created of Italy and I know you always wanted to go there. Maybe now you can travel there and find the love and beauty that Italy has preserved for us. So long my friend and God Speed!
January 12, 2015
A truly incredible artist. When I think of Charleston, I think of the art of this talented man. A highlight of any visit to Charleston was a visit to his gallery. Rest in Peace - John Carroll Doyle.
William Lomax
January 10, 2015
Sorry to hear of John's passing. We have his Eagle painting in our office which we will see and remember John every day. Will be by gallery during SCWLC. Jon & Jeanette Rogers
Jon Rogers
November 27, 2014
When we learned of the passing of John C. Doyle, the wind was knocked right out of us.

We first fell in-love with his work during an impromptu stop in his gallery, during our first visit to Charleston, in 2008.

Over the past 6 summers, his gallery was the one fixture on our itinerary.

Subsequently, we became better acquainted with Gallery Director, Angela Stump, and our annual visits became hour-long chats with a fast friend.

In 2012, knowing how much we admire his art, Angela asked John, on a whim, if he would meet with us at his studio apartment. He agreed, and we had our most memorable vacation to the Holy City.

He was so affable, and gracious with his time. He spent almost 2 hours with us, some of which was spent discussing his work, but most of which was spent talking about life. Having dyslexia myself, we had an instant connection. I recall him mentioning how dyslexia afforded him a broadened scope, something he came to value. This is a sentiment I share, and have, for many years, embraced. He was so candid about the hardships that he had overcome, and how they had shaped his life.

It is rare that someone you admire from afar, exceeds your expectations when you meet them. John did. We came away even more impressed by the man than his art. And oh, what magnificent, regal and inspirational art it is!

We could recognize his work instantly: at a bank in downtown, Charleston; at a grocery store in Mount Pleasant.

I often see the faces of loved ones in his paintings: an aunt balancing a basket on her head; a niece staring into a fish bowl; a cousin playing a banjo.

His depictions of animals, the majestic nature he injected into those paintings - especially the egrets, my favorites - simply cannot be duplicated. I have searched the eyes of many such paintings, by others, and have yet to find the majesty and humanity that John was able to portray in his work. I used to wonder what his secret was, but having met the man, the mystery was solved. He simply poured out his spirit onto the canvass. His was a kind, noble, majestic soul, and I never cease to recognize those attributes in his work.

I often wondered whether Charleston was truly aware of what a treasure John was. I ponder that even more, now that he has passed.

We"ll miss him.


Dwayne and Ann.
Dwayne Morgan
November 25, 2014
I just learned about John's passing yesterday. I'm devastated. Shocked. I was one of his main models from 1991-1994. The pictures hung on his walls for years. I modeled for him later. He took my wedding photographs. After he had his heart surgery I was the first person to take him on a walk in downtown Charleston. That's when he lived in his studio. John Doyle taught me how to walk like a lady. Going back and forth in the former ballet studio. Back and forth. He was relentless. High heels, my dear. I was the model for Devilish Angel with Red Boots, and the model for The Path to the Beach. Both women. He actually explained to me how he painted. We spent so many hours together, he taught me how he did it. Da Vinci. Break it into almost a code. I have my photographs. John, I miss you. I hope you are with the Angels. Kelly Noel McGowan.
November 23, 2014
Great artist! He will be missed by all.
Oliver Mathewes
November 21, 2014
To us John Doyle was the epitome of "Mr Charleston. We met him in 2000 and enjoyed many visits to his gallery as well as his studio. We own several of his works our favorite being "Charleston Nobility" of the woman he hears from his summer porch singing of her fruits and vegetables for sale which he came to our home to hang himself in our Dining room. We treasure her as we did our friendship with John and will remember him whenever we view his art or appreciate the pages of his incredible photography. Valerie and John Luther
November 20, 2014
John, Bruce and I will miss your always ready smile. You made such a positive impact on so many lives. Rest in peace, friend.
Michelle Miller
November 19, 2014
Elegant, kind, talented, and sincere John Doyle will be missed.
Mary Edna Fraser
November 19, 2014
The angels are glad to have you home. We thank them for lending you to us. You have helped us see color and light more purely. Grateful to have shared in your time line.
Linda Fasig
November 19, 2014
to a dear friend and fellow artist. god bless you in your new adventure. dick reed
November 19, 2014
We live in Indiana, while living in Charleston years ago we purchased Porgy, the painting that had hung in the restaurant. We also purchased a great oil of the beach and lighthouse on Sullivan's Island, I asked John to paint in a pelican for me and he did. We also have a print of the Basket Ladies and a cute Jester he did while talking to me on the phone. All of John's art adorn the walls in our home bringing joy to us everyday. We were blessed to have met John in his old upstairs studio on King Street.

Alice and Tony Lavka
Alice and Tony Lavka
November 19, 2014
His best actually they were all his best
John great artist but also was able to fight his demons and won.
Rembrandt Mccaw
November 19, 2014
John was a good friend to me while I lived in Charleston.he did several paintings for me and I love them all.we often talked in the waterfront park when he was walking Delia. He was a kind and gentle man and I will always remember him.
margaret Craft Craft
November 18, 2014
RIP to my fellow book lover, a brilliant artist, and a dear friend. Thank you for brightening my days with your smile and warm conversations. You will be truly missed. -Pebbles
Jessica "Pebbles" Fry
November 17, 2014
Hi John, thanks for the drawing you did of me at the 3 Nags so many years ago.
November 17, 2014
I was in the Coast Guard with John in 1966. Next time we saw each other was 40 years later. We rekindled a friendship and John painted numerous pieces for us. A wonderful talented human being.
Ben & Betty Davenport, Chatham Virginia
Ben Davenport
November 17, 2014
One of the nicest men in Charleston. John help me celebrate my 50th birthday a few years ago. He was always happy to see me and was always a highlight of any day I would run into him. He will be missed my many.
Enid Idelsohn
November 17, 2014
Congratulations John on your graduation day. I will always cherish the many great lessons I learned from you. May you rest in peace.
Kathy Lorang
November 17, 2014
John was a great guy who was very nice over the years to my sweet sister, Marcia Brandt. We stopped by his studio when i was in charleston and he was always the gracious host....a real Southern gentleman!

Bucko Brandt
November 16, 2014
John you were such an incredible talent. Can't believe that I met you in 1978. You knew I loved clowns and you painted me the most amazing painting of a Mime for my Birthday that year that still hangs in a special place in my home along with many more of your incredible paintings over the years. You will be truly missed. But, I know you will be dancing up above. Susan Slotnick
November 16, 2014
John was an unassuming, regular guy. He and his stupendous talent will be missed.
Deborah Palmer
November 16, 2014
debora dunham
November 16, 2014
Ill never forget the days and there were many you always popped into the Rainbows End to say hello and chat about any and everything , ill always remerber you John Doyle four you and of course your art not counting you gpod looks.!!'
carla mitchell
November 16, 2014
John always took the time in passing to say hello. He's painting in heaven- DAB
November 16, 2014
John and I were in the same class at Charleston High School. I did not know John well but I liked and respected him. I might mention that John was voted "Best Looking" and "Most Talented" in our class. His many accomplishments certainly attest to the "Most Talented" honor.
RIP John.
Donald Hayes
November 16, 2014
Rest in peace my dear friend...I will never forget all the wonderful times I had with you and I will cherish my art by you. You were a true southern gentleman. To your thoughts and prayers are with you.
Charlotte Blank
November 16, 2014
Charleston has lost a true southern gem in the passing of John. Many memories of watching him doing what he did best in his studio...where I saw shape, John saw shadows...where I saw shadows, John saw hues of lavender and purple. Many a conversation about his childhood, life, and experiences. A truly wonderful and uniquely talented gentleman. You will be missed my friend. The peace you always wanted is now with you. Rest well.
Mark Rodenberg
November 16, 2014
Heaven has gained an angel. We will always remember you
LeAnne Horning- Decker
November 16, 2014
John, it was such a joy to get to know you and work with you. I learned so much about femininity and softness. You will be missed!
Chana alvord
November 16, 2014
What a gentle giant. From the days of my parents (Baker's Cafe) until now, he remained a quiet part of my life. Sleep well!!!
kimberly clarke
November 16, 2014
Thank you John, for gifting the world with your talent and spirit.
Clay Rice
November 16, 2014
So sorry to lose such a friend. I Will miss you John, and always remember our talks.
November 15, 2014
John was so kind to encourage my son Case Jernigan when he was a young artist. We will remember you always. Blessings John, and condolences to your family.
Suzanne Boone
November 15, 2014
A true gentleman and prolific talent. We were honored to meet you and cherish the conversation we shared. Your works that decorate our home are among our most valued art. You will live forever through your paintings, and each offered a glimpse of you, yourself. You were a fantastic ambassador for your beloved Charleston. God bless.
Jeff and Karla Thompson
November 15, 2014
Dear John: I will always remember those cheerful times we spent talking music & art in 'the Third World record shop'. You were an important part of my Charleston experience and, now that you are gone, things are not the same. Sail on, dear Sir, and thank you for everything.
Gary Erwin
November 15, 2014
Dear John: I will always remember our cheerful times talking music & art in "the Third World record shop". You were always a part of my Charleston experience and now that you are gone, this isn't quite the same place. Sail on, dear Sir, and thank you for everything.
Gary Erwin
November 15, 2014
So thankful that I was a friend of John's, he always saw the beauty in everyone, what a gorgeous man, Rest in peace dear heart!
Tara Anderson
November 15, 2014
I wished I had the gift of beautiful words to express my feelings... But for me my friend it is color... When I see sweet lavender in the shadows ,I will think of you.. And the pop of cadmium red. . It's you my friend. Renee wilder.
Renee wilder
November 15, 2014
So glad to havee taken those walks with you and go to the ball with you. Thanks for your friendship.
margaret burns
November 15, 2014
John will be missed.
Gazie & Jon Nagle
November 15, 2014
I'm very thankful to have known you as a friend and confidant. You've left the world a better place for your presence in it.
November 15, 2014
John my friend and fellow artist God-Speed... From Cat boats to fine art you were always a good friend! My condolences to John's family.
Stan Nimmons
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