Portland Writer Brian Doyle Dies At 60

Novelist, essayist and editor of Portland magazine leaves behind large body of work, many friends.

Brian Doyle (courtesy UP)

Brian Doyle, a novelist, prolific essayist and the longtime editor of the University of Portland's magazine, died early Saturday morning. He was 60.

Doyle's death, announced by the university where he worked since 1991 and first reported by the University of Portland's student newspaper, The Beacon, came a year after he announced he was suffering from a brain tumor.

Doyle won a 2016 Oregon Book Award for his young-adult novel Martin-Marten. His essays appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic, The New York Times and many other publications. Under his leadership, Portland magazine, which UP publishes quarterly, won numerous honors, including a 2005 Sibley Award, given to the best college magazine in America. He also mentored students at The Beacon, the University of Portland's student newspaper.

Beacon editor Rachel Rippetoe remembered Doyle fondly with a first-person piece in her paper.

"Every once in awhile, you meet someone who shakes you by the shoulders and reminds you that we're all standing on a precipice, bits of rock slowly eroding underneath the sneakers we bought at Macy's for half price," Rippetoe writes. "Brian was good at being honest. A devout Catholic who had no trouble expressing his contention with the church or with any discrepancies he found in the everyday bullshit we're all entangled in. Brian loved calling out bullshit."

Doyle exuded a passion for the written word, speaking in torrents that mirrored his exuberant prose. Although he was a transplanted New Yorker, Doyle gained a deep understanding of the idiosyncrasies of his adopted home. The Seattle Times called his 2010 novel Mink River, a lyrical tale of the Oregon coast, "a "timeless story of survival, transcendence and good cheer."

The longtime Oregonian columnist Steve Duin mourned his friend's passing.

"I only knew the gentle side of him," Duin told WW via text. "I never saw the belligerence he famously brought to the basketball court. He somehow found the good in things I have no patience for. He edited and animated the best college magazine in the history of the world. And no, I have no patience for the unfairness of his death."

Doyle is survived by his wife, Mary, and their three children.

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