Robert Boyle (1928-2017)

Robert Boyle (Riverkeeper photo)

Robert Hamilton Boyle Jr., 88, one of the founders of Riverkeeper, died of cancer on May 19 in Cooperstown.

Boyle was born on Aug. 21, 1928, to Robert Sr. and Elizabeth (Coundouris) Boyle, and grew up in Murray Hill in Manhattan. He graduated from Loyola School in Manhattan and in 1949 earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Trinity College in Hartford and later a master’s degree in history and international affairs from Yale. He married Jane Crosby Sanger, who died in 1975.

During the Korean War he served as a second lieutenant with the Marines in the Atlantic fleet. He also studied at Trinity College in Dublin and the Universitat de Barcelona in Spain, where he also played professional baseball.

In 1954 he became a writer for Time Inc. After moving to Croton in 1960, Boyle was unnerved by the pollution in the Hudson River. He joined Scenic Hudson in 1965, which was one of the groups suing to prevent a proposed Con Ed nuclear power plant at Storm King.

In 1966 he helped form the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association, which in 1983 became Riverkeeper, after reporting on fish being killed by water-intake equipment at Indian Point. In 1970, writing for Sports Illustrated, he was one of the first journalists to write about PCBs and their contamination of fish in the river. He wrote a number of books, including Sport, Mirror of American Life (1963) and The Hudson River: A Natural and Unnatural History (1969).

Boyle resigned with seven other board members from Riverkeeper in 2000 after a dispute over the hiring of a staff scientist.

He is survived by his second wife, Kathryn Belous-Boyle; his children from his first marriage, Stephanie Boyle Mays, Peter Boyle and Alexander Boyle; and three grandchildren.


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