|Mildred Eloise Doyle (1904-1989)|
Zeta Chapter, Xi State
Besides achieving distinction as an athlete, Mildred Eloise Doyle has extended her influence from local to state educational circles. She is the first woman to be elected to the office of Superintendent of Schools in Knox County, a position which she has held for fourteen years.
The daughter of Illia Burnett and Charter Elbert Doyle, Mildred was born in Knox County, December 27, 1904. She is a member of a large family, four of whom are teachers. The family has resided in Knox County for more than fifty years.
Miss Doyle received her formal education in Mooreville Heights Elementary School, Young High School, Maryville College, and the University of Tennessee. From the latter she received both the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Science degrees. After one year in Maryville College, she began her teaching career. For the next twenty years, she taught during regular session and attended summer school. Thus, she was able to earn her two degrees without loss of time from her teaching.
From childhood Miss Doyle has been interested in sports and her determination to improve herself professionally did not minimize this interest. For a number of years she was a member of semi-professional teams, both basketball and softball. She began playing basketball in 1918, continuing for twenty-two consecutive seasons. She played softball for thirteen years -- 1934 through 1946. Possessed of great physical energy and strength, Mildred became an outstanding player in both sports. For three years she was manager of a softball team which traveled throughout the South.
Miss Doyle's keen sense of humor told her when it was finally time to retire from softball. She was playing in a game in the summer of 1946. On her first trip to bat, she hit the ball into right field but was thrown out at first base. Her next turn at bat, she again hit the ball to right field. As she ran toward first, she heard with something of a shock, the bellow of an ardent fan: "Come on, Granny; you run like a dry spring!" That was Mildred's last season.
After teaching for one year at Anderson School, Miss Doyle moved to Vestal Elementary School. Four years later she was elected principal of Vestal, a position which she held for sixteen years. In 1945 she was appointed supervisor of instruction in Knox County and one year later was elected Superintendent of Knox County Schools. The fact that she is completing her fifteenth year as superintendent is adequate testimony to her effectiveness in this position.
"Personal characteristics which have been her trademark," said her biographer, "are her ready wit, her red hair (no curls), the telltale expression of her snappy brown eyes, and her complete lack of affectation." Since early youth she has exhibited a lively interest in children and music, as well as sports. While she was elementary school principal, no children's activity -- from a marble tournament in an operetta -- ever failed to arouse her enthusiasm.
Miss Doyle has been an active member of numerous professional organizations and has served as president of the Tennessee Education Association, the Knoxville Executive Women's Club, and Zeta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. Though the membership of the Superintendents Study Club is predominantly male, Miss Doyle has continued as chairman of the group since its organization in 1948. Though she has been the recipient of several honors, Miss Doyle is probably proudest of being named "Outstanding Woman Athlete of the Last Fifty Years in Tennessee." She was also recommended by her district congressman as a nominee for United States Commissioner of Education. In her various capacities as teacher, principal, supervisor, and county superintendent, she has rendered valuable service to the youth of Knox County and to the cause of education. Under her wise leadership, there has been continuing improvement in the curricular structure and in the plant facilities of the Knox County Schools. Personally and professionally, she has made an enviable place for herself in both local and statewide circles.
In spite of this list of distinguished achievements, many of the friends of Mildred Eloise Doyle feel that she has made her finest contribution in the realm of character building. As a sportswoman she has done this through her splendid example of good sportsmanship and fair play.
Source: Light from Many Candles: A History of Pioneer Women in Education in Tennessee, by Lucille Rogers. Published by Xi State, Delta Kappa Gamma.McQuiddy Printing Company, Nashville, 1960. Transcribed for this site by Char.