Our Founder

Thomas Earl Doyle
(26 Jun 1900 – 13 Jan 2001)

Born June 26, 1900 in Barr Township Daviess County, Indiana to Martin and Cisley (Kelly) Doyle the second of eight children. The others being James, Mary, Gertrude, Agnes, Cletus, Austin (all deceased) and Ernestine Palmer Washington, Indiana.

He was educated in Barr Township schools and graduated from Montgomery High School.

He was noted for being a runner and jumper. It was said there was not a fence in Barr Township that he couldn’t jump. He often raced horses and would finish many races running backwards.

He attended Indiana State Normal, now Indiana State University, in Terre Haute, Indiana.   He taught in Barr Township schools for three years from fall of 1922 through May of 1925.

He married Rose Nalin on September 28, 1927 at St. Patrick’s Church, Corning, Indiana. She died August 2, 1974.

They have 6 children, Charles Edward Doyle (Washington, Indiana), Vincent Walter Doyle, (Dunedin, Florida), Lewis Eugene Doyle (Washington, Indiana, Mariam Rose Knese (Dayton, Ohio), Thomas E. Doyle, Jr. (Washington, Indiana), Jean Ann Sorensen (Olney, Illinois). There are 17 Grandchildren, and 27 Great-grand children.  In his 100 years not a single descendent had died.

He married Louise (Young) Richardson at St. Simons Church on May 10, 1980.

He began working at the US Post Office as a Parcel Post carrier and later became a city carrier and retired on disability after 30 years due to being hit by a car that ran a stop sign, receiving broken ribs and crushed left arm.  After 5 years of personal exercise he had fully recovered from the injuries and went on regular retirement.  At one time he figured he had walked enough “official miles” to circumnavigate the world 2 times.

He was also active for 55 years in the construction business beginning in the early 1920’s in several overlapping partnerships with Alvin McCracken, as “McCracken and Doyle”, Curt Wildridge as “Wildridge and Doyle”, Cecil Booker as “Booker and Doyle” and with his brothers James, Cletus and Austin Doyle as “Doyle Bros. Contractors” ending in 1975.

During the construction years he built over 78 homes in the Washington area as well as Churches in Vincennes, Oakland City, Indiana, Lawrenceville,  Robinson, and Heathville, Illinois, American Legion in Washington, Indiana, Elks and Moose Lodges and Sandridge school in Lawrenceville, Illinois, several additions to the Sullivan Elementary School, Sullivan, Indiana and Jasper 6th Street School, Jasper, Indiana, water treatment plants in Odon,  Martin County State park, Shoals, Shakamak State Park, Jasonville, Indiana, and Dugger, Indiana.  Pride’s Creek Park, Petersburg, Indians and the last job was a sewer treatment plant in Dugger, Indiana as well as over 350 contracts at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Indiana and 7 State Highway garages.

He was an avid Gardner all his life.

He became well known nationally as the “plastic man” and “blackberry man” after 1959 when he developed a method of using black plastic to cover a garden and planted through small holes.  Because the plastic was used for up to 10 years, he called it “Gardening without Cultivation” and marketed his special formulated plastic sheets under that name. He also wrote a gardening book that has been printed in 7 editions.

In the early 1970’s he discovered a thornless blackberry that can product up to 10 gallons of extra large and extra sweet blackberries and  in 1975 was granted a patent on the plant as “Doyles Thornless Blackberry” This was the first thornless blackberry patented since 1940 and he was inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame for this achievement. His blackberry is a featured attraction at the Agricultural Hall of Fame west of Kansas City, Kansas and for 25 years visitors have adjusted their travel plans after seeing the plants and came to Washington to meet the originator.

He has been featured on television and in several national publications including Grit (twice) ,Mother Earth News (three times, last being in 1999) and Organic Gardening, Montgomery Times, Washington Times Herald and Evansville Courier.

In 1969 Tom visited the Washington K of C club and noticed they were looking for bowlers.  Since he always had enjoyed bowling and now had some free time he joined the K of C league and two others. Although his averages were around 135-160 over the years he had several 600 series and especially enjoyed the challenge of having to finish with three or four strikes to beat a much younger opponent. He seldom failed. He finally gave up bowling in 1995.  In the mid 70’s his knees began to wear out but being the determined man he was, he would use crutches to get to his acre garden and then do all the necessary work by crawling around on his hands and knees. It did handicap but not stop his bowling. In 1979 he had both knee joints replaced and returned to his normal activities after a few months or recuperation.

During his lifetime he strongly encouraged education and many people have reported how his encouragement led them to continue with school and enabled them to become nurses, accountant, bankers, a county treasurer or successful businessman.

He owned the fourth car he ever rode in, but there is only one known time he ever used second gear and that was to cross Skyline Bridge in St. Petersburg, Florida.

He also had interesting theories about raising children.

First, he always wanted his children to mind him so after he told them to do something twice and they did not do it he would tell them not to, so they would be doing what he told them.

Second, it did not matter how many children you have, it takes everything you have to raise them.

The only difference for a big family or small family is the size of each child’s share.

Tom licensed Severtson Farms, of  Wylie, Texas to sell Doyles Thornless Blackberry. This contract has been terminated by both parties and Doyles Thornless Blackberry of Washington, IN now has  exclusive rights to the selling of Doyles Thornless Blackberry Plants.

Lewis E. Doyle

1600 Bedford Road, Washington, US, 47501


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