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 www.jhenrystuhr.com. Visit our guestbook at www.legacy.com/obituaries/ charleston
To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Charleston Post & Courier from Nov. 14 to Nov. 15, 2014.