Bill Doyle '59 Business Administration
It was a typical winter morning in Amery, Wisconsin—a bone-chilling 35 degrees below zero.
Into the Ida Mae Café walked Bill Doyle '59, his face beet-red and his eyeglasses iced over. The 66-year-old found his favorite booth.
Wayne Tanner, a middle-aged construction worker, looked up from his breakfast.
"It's a little cold out there this morning, Bill."
"Yeah," Bill responded, "it sure is."
This exchange represented a breakthrough. For years, the two had only nodded hellos. They fell silent for a while until Wayne noticed Bill was also readying to leave.
"Bill," he said, "would you like a ride home?"
"I sure would."
And so began a 13-year friendship that ended September 14, 2011, when Bill died at the age of 79. Along the way, he left a lasting impression on Wayne as well as others whose paths he crossed.
His impact will endure for years to come at NIU as well. Unbeknownst to his fellow café regulars, William Francis Doyle was the mild-mannered millionaire in the next booth over. And he left it all to NIU.
Coin Collection Pays Off
After retiring in 1987 from his career as a computer analyst, Bill moved to Amery to be near his father, who sadly passed away less than a year later. By then, Amery had become home to Bill.
At his home in Amery, Bill enjoyed reviewing and displaying for guests his growing coin collection. That hobby paid off for future NIU students—those hundreds of coins reaped some $360,000, roughly one-third of Bill's estate.
"Bill had very fond memories of Northern and was grateful for the education he received here," says John Sentovich, director of gift planning. "He didn't have a lot of money when he enrolled and he appreciated that tuition was reasonable."
In his conversations with John, Bill more than once emphasized that he wanted his gift to remain anonymous while he was alive.
Mike Malone, president of the NIU Foundation, was struck by the fact that Bill often said the gift was no big deal.
"That's the type of person Bill was—humble, unassuming," Malone says. "But the truth of the matter is that his generosity is a very big deal."
The university is gratefully applying Bill's gift—some $1.2 million—to faculty and student support. A $625,000 portion is establishing a professorship in the Department of Accountancy. Another $500,000 will fund a scholarship endowment, with preference given to students who hail from Wisconsin's Polk County, where Amery is located. Annually, the scholarship will amount to $22,000 in tuition support and can be awarded to an unrestricted number of students.
Bill will never be forgotten at NIU, where the generosity of a man who insisted his generosity was no big deal will be a very big deal for countless students in the generations to come.
Northern Illinois University has designated the NIU Foundation as the charitable organization to receive and manage all gifts on its behalf.
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