St. Patrick's Day is going to miss Barney Doyle this year. No one ever enjoyed the day as much as he did.
With Barney, St. Patrick's Day was a year and he made each minute of every day count.
Barney was known as the most generous man in Washington, who tipped lavishly and always picked up the tab. For 50 years he had made money in successful printing businesses and during his retirement years he enjoyed spending it.
"He would but a drink for the picture on the wall," a friend said of Barney.
A bartender remembered the day Barney came into his place, drank two beers and picked up the tab for the bar.
"The bill was for $247.40," the bartender said. "The guys were having some fun and the gag was that Barney ended up with everyone's check, but Barney had the last laugh when he paid it without blinking an eye."
His St. Patrick's Day parties were legend.
"They were always spontaneous; no invitations, anyone could come," a friend remembered. "One St. Patrick's Day he went into the old Hotel Brussels, spent the day listening to Irish tunes, bought drinks and food for everyone in the place, ordering the finest wines and most expensive dishes, and at the end of the evening his bill was $12,000."
There was the St. Patrick's Day that Barney wanted to get into Matt Kane's and the crowd was lined up along the sidewalk and it looked impossible. k
Barney went home, called an ambulance and had the attendants carry him in on a stretcher.
One March 17 he found himself on a train coming down from New York.
Fearing that he might miss a part of the day, he got off in Philadelphia and found an Irish bar to celebrate at.
Late in the afternoon he was running out of money, so he had the waitress remove his shoe, uncovering his nest egg of $2,000.
A story is told about Barney's appearance at the Touchdown Club's annual father-son night, when a flock of underprivileged children was invited.
Barney always brought along at least $200 in silver dollars and would hand them out to the kids along with brand new footballs.
After a few beers, when he ran out of coins and the kids kept coming with their hands out, Barney would but a silver dollar back from one kid to give it to another. The exchanges cost Barney $5 each.
No one ever saw Barney sit down to a meal, but he would to to Cannon's fish market, buy $150 worth of lobsters, take them to a friendhs house for dinner and not touch a bite.
He moved to a one-bedroom apartment after his wife died in 1961, and a close friend said he ate nothing but snacks.
He loved one friend's dogs and would show up with five pounds of filet mignon about once a week.
The friend would sneak the expensive meat into the freezer and feed the dogs ground beef.
Barney only wore white shirts and white clip-on neckties that he would buy by the dozens, and when they became soiled he would throw them away.
Barney always bet on the Cowboys against the Redskins and would have maybe 150 $20 bets around town per game. He never bet with a bookie.
Every season he bought 42 Redskin season tickets and gave them out each week to friends along with a $1 bill, so they could have a hot dog and a beer. He never went to a game.
Barney was a native of Washington, the youngest of 16 children, living in the old "Swampoodle" area where the main post office is now.
His last day in school was in the sixth grade.He left to become a chimney sweep.
Later on, along with an older brother, he started a printing business. They called it the Doyle Press.
Barney held 49 percent of the stock and his brother 51.
During a squabble with his brother over his expense account, Barney lost and his brother bougth him out for $40,000.
Barney was 55 at the time. He went out and formed his own company, calling it the Jefferson Press. He and his wife built the new company into a million-dollar business.
Barney never got back much, as a friend recalled. "One day after Christmas I went over to his apartment and he opened the bathroom door and showed me his gifts: eight bottles of Lavoris, all from different people."
During World War Ii, Barney became an air-raid warden but lost his job when he wouldn't enforce the blackout regulations, saying, "If Hitler can't bomb out England, then what in the hell is he going to do in Washington?"
Barney made one attempt in the world of literature and that was in the sixth grade, when he wrote this poem. He liked to recite it and was proud of the A he had received for it. I'll leave the nighttime to the dreamers. I'll leave the songbirds to the blind. I'll leave the moon above to those in love, When I leave the world behind.
Barney Doyle left the world behind on February 21. He was 76, and was buried alongside his wife at Fort Linicoln Cemetery. The couple had no children.
There will be a lot of toasts raised to Barney on St. Patrick's Day, wherever his friends will be celebrating today.
One that will stand out is, "May you be half an hour in Heaven before the devil knows you're dead."