Kathleen Gregg Coyle had a sharp eye for misbehavior during her three decades of teaching at the Catholic elementary school in Bethel Park that her own sons had attended.
"There would be no throwing spitballs while she was in the room," her son, Bill, recalled Sunday.
Mrs. Coyle, 87, died Thursday at UPMC Mercy from the effects of a stroke. She lived in Bethel Park with her husband, William E. Coyle. "For 62 years, she was my shadow and I was hers," her husband said.
She had been a teacher in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania for 35 years.
Mrs. Coyle was born Feb. 20, 1927, in Taunton, Mass. She was the daughter of the late William R. and Katherine Bignall Gregg. She attended Immaculate Conception Grammar School before going on to graduate from Taunton High School. She attended Brown University, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor's degree in English, and taught grammar school in Massachusetts for five years.
She married Mr. Coyle, who was then a himself a teacher, in 1953. Their first son, Bill, was born in Taunton. They later moved to South Bend, Ind., where her husband attended law school at Notre Dame, and to Miami, Fla., where he finished law school. Their younger son, Frank, was born in Florida. The family also lived in Falls Church, Va., when Mr. Coyle worked for the Internal Revenue Service. They relocated to Pittsburgh when he came to work in 1964 for Gulf Oil and later for PPG.
She and her husband enrolled both their sons at St. Thomas More School, where she taught elementary classes for 30 years, outlasting several principals.
St. Patrick's Day was among her favorite holidays, and she always had her students dressed in costumes for Irish plays and songs.
A member of the St. Thomas More Women's Guild, she took part in plays produced by the association, often taking parts that required Irish accents. "She was very proud of her Irish heritage," said her son Frank, of Virginia, Beach, Va.
After her retirement, she kept in touch with many former students, keeping up to date on their lives and families.
After 50 years in Pittsburgh, she was a loyal fan -- mostly -- of Pittsburgh teams. Her family said she shifted her allegiance to the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots, however, whenever they played the Pirates and the Steelers.
That hometown loyalty grew stronger a few years ago when she had an opportunity to meet and spend time with a childhood sports crush, said her son Bill, of Bethel Park. Bobby Doerr, a former Red Sox second baseman now in the Baseball Hall of Fame, came to Pittsburgh for a sports card signing. When the Coyles drove Mr. Doerr back to Pittsburgh International Airport, Mrs. Coyle had a chance to sit in the backseat and chat with the baseball great.
"She never got tired of telling that story," her son Bill said.
In addition to her husband and two sons, her survivors include two grandchildren, four step-grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Friends may call at Beinhauer Family Funeral Home, 2828 Washington Road, McMurray, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Thomas More Church, 126 Fort Couch Road, Bethel Park. Interment will be in St. Francis Cemetery in Taunton.
Memorial contributions may be made to Paralyzed Veterans of America, 801 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20006, or www.pva.org.
Len Barcousky: firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-772-0184.