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Tess Boyle, 76, endearing matriarch of a basketball family, dies

Boyle had been an employee at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for 41 years, doing a long stint as director of volunteer volunteer services, in recent years becoming director of concierge services.

Tess Boyle, 76, was a CHOP employee for 41 years.
Tess Boyle, 76, was a CHOP employee for 41 years.Read moreBoyle family

Teresa E. “Tess” Boyle was not the type to sit idly by while her husband, Jim “Bo” Boyle, coached the St. Joseph’s University men’s basketball team for nine seasons in the 1980s.

“I think she was the one out walking the halls of the Palestra when there were 10 seconds left and it was baseline out of bounds,’’ said her son, Jim.

As it turned out, Tess Boyle’s game attendance lasted her entire life, through two more generations, beyond her husband’s death in 2005, into too many gymnasiums to count, while she lived a full life away from the sport.

Mrs. Boyle, 76, of Media, died Tuesday, Dec. 17, from colon cancer. It was her third bout with cancer, after being diagnosed with breast cancer more than three decades back, with a recurrence of that cancer three years ago. Mrs. Boyle had been an employee at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for 41 years, including a long stint as director of volunteer services, in recent years becoming director of concierge services.

“I think the biggest thing was how many families she had,'' her son said. “Her work at Children’s Hospital was really her calling.”

“She never actually retired. She was always positive — that was her life,’’ said her daughter Tracie Daly. “My brother [Kevin] died and she took care of us, a grieving mother. When my father died, she took care of us.”

Mrs. Boyle’s oldest daughter, Kelly Doyle, described how her mother and father started dating at West Catholic High. After marriage and children came along, Mrs. Boyle went to night school at St. Joe’s, two classes at a time, while working full-time. Her goal was to graduate ahead of her two oldest children. She made it by a year, her daughter said, mom graduating in 1984.

Kelly Doyle said there was a family discussion this week about how many basketball games Mrs. Boyle had seen, since she had four children and 12 grandchildren, and they all played CYO ball, many continuing through high school into college basketball. “That’s 20 games a year. For all those years," Kelly Doyle said. "What’s that math come up to?”

“She would go to games at St. Denis where her family wasn’t playing,’’ Tracie Daly said. “She’d say, ‘Yeah, but I told [her grandson’s friend] Jimmy I’d be there.’ Everyone called her Nan. She worked the snack bar there.”

They also count up all the other sports, including college lacrosse and field hockey games for granddaughters. But the basketball ties weave through everything. Kay Lynam and her husband, Jim, a Boyle backcourt mate at West Catholic and St. Joseph’s, were lifelong best friends with the Boyles, with the Lynams’ daughter, Kathy, eventually marrying their son, Jim.

A son-in-law, Mike Doyle, coaches basketball at Penncrest High, and had been on Jim Boyle’s staff at St. Joe’s. Another son-in-law, Brian Daly, had been a Hawks player under Boyle and a college assistant, most recently at Penn State.

“Kay [Lynam] and my mother shared a story about being in Yeadon when Bo and Jim were playing,’’ Jim Boyle said, using his father’s lifelong nickname. “They went outside and ended up locked out of the gym. They sat on a stoop and talked for an hour and a half. I think that was the beginning of their friendship, at age 16.”

Even funeral services were determined with the basketball calendar in mind, Tracie Daly said. La Salle had a game Wednesday and a grandson, Michael Doyle, is a graduate assistant coach for the Explorers. Thursday, St. Joe’s has a game and grandson Ryan Daly plays for the Hawks and grandson Toe Boyle is director of scouting and analytics. Friday and Saturday, West Chester has games, and grandson Colin Daly plays for the Rams. Also, grandson Brian Boyle is an assistant coach with the Agua Caliente Clippers of the G League and he will be taking a red-eye in this weekend.

“The funeral is on the anniversary of my dad’s death,’’ Tracie Daly said. “We didn’t plan that.”

Mrs. Boyle is survived by daughter Kelly Doyle and her husband, Mike; son Jim and his wife, Kathy; daughter Tracie Daly and her husband, Brian; daughter-in-law Lauren Newman; and 12 grandchildren.

There will be a visitation Sunday, Dec. 22, from 6-9 p.m. at O’Leary Funeral Home, 640 E. Springfield Rd., Springfield, and on Monday, Dec. 23, after 9:30 a.m. at Church of St. Denis, 2401 St. Denis Lane, Havertown. A funeral Mass will be held at the church Monday at 11 a.m.

Donations can be made to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, P.O. Box 781352, Philadelphia, PA 19178 or Coaches vs. Cancer, American Cancer Society, 1818 Market St., Suite 2820, Philadelphia, PA 19103.