A TRUE KNIGHT

By Lisa Feorenzo & Kevin Canessa

Life can change — for the better or worse — in an instant.

For Norman “Bogie” Doyle III, some might say a fateful day back in 1992 changed his life for the worse. But to know him — to really know him well — the day that changed so much may have made life a challenge for him and his family. But life went on. And eventually, it was for the better.

Doyle was on the soccer pitch playing for Seton Hall Preparatory School the day it all happened 27 years ago. He was in the absolute worst place at perhaps the worst possible millisecond. A soccer ball that had been kicked by an opposing player hit him under his chin. For whatever the reason medically, the way the ball hit him, it caused brain damage.

Irreversibly.

The next year would be among the most trying times for Doyle and his family — his mom Carol Jean, a Kearny Councilwoman for the last 20+ years; his dad the-late Norman Jr., a former Kearny Municipal Court Judge and among the most respected and noted attorneys Kearny has ever known; and sister Meghan, now an assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor who recently won a case with a national profile, the horrifying murder of Sarah Stern.

“When it hit me in the chin, that was the last thing that I remember,” Doyle said. “It took me a year, a year, before I got out of bed.”

Initially, his mom was with him, always at his side, in hospital.

“My mom, oh my, she stayed with me at the hospital for four, five days straight,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why don’t you go home, mom?’ and she just stayed with me.”

During that time, he couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He had to learn how to do everything that we so often take for granted all over again, through physical and speech therapy. It was not an easy task by any means.

After a year or so of rehab, Norman was ready to go home and ultimately, back to school. But because of memory loss, and the neurological damage he tragically sustained, he had no other choice but to transfer Kearny High School. The rigors of a Catholic, college preparatory school education would have been too much.

But that was OK. He remained a solid “B” student, he says.

And, while some things remained the same, others didn’t. For one, he never stepped foot on a soccer pitch ever again following the accident.

“I could have but didn’t want to,” he said. “The memory of it all.”

Despite what happened at Seton Hall Prep, Doyle has fond memories of his time there.

“There was 2½ to 3 hours of homework a night,” he said. “My friends at Kearny High would tell me they had half hour, 20 minutes of homework. It was hard.”

His accident also changed more. After it, he says, he missed hanging out with his friends. There were also two girls he knows he was very fond of before the accident, but in the aftermath, he couldn’t remember who they were — though he does remember them now. And he also came to the realization that he wouldn’t be following in his dad’s larger-than-life footsteps.

“I probably would have gone to law school like dad,” he said, had things been different.

Still, his parents truly were the rocks who got him through all of his challenging times.

“My mom and dad, their support was great,” he said. “ … My mom is the greatest mom.”

And after all of this, Doyle found a way to keep going — to enjoy life as much as he can, in as many ways as he can, despite the hurdles placed in his way.

He’s on the custodial staff at Kearny High School now, his alma mater. He works very hard on a full-time, 37½ hours-a-week basis, to keep the school in tip-top physical shape along with his custodial colleagues.

And, several years ago, to find an outlet for social and service interaction, (it must just be in the Doyle blood to be men and women for others) Norman joined the St. Cecilia Council of the Knights of Columbus.

Just a few months ago, selected by his fellow Knights, Doyle was named the Knight of the Year and was honored at a special dinner at St. Stephen’s Church, where the Catholic fraternal service organization now meets. When he first became a member, they met at St. Cecilia.

Being chosen Knight of the Year is one of the highest honors a member may receive. His selection meant that his peers believed no other Knight, in the previous year, did more for the local council, no one had a more influential year than did Doyle. Many of the brother Knights who chose him for this honor are many years his senior.

One of his fellow Knights sang Doyle’s praises following his selection as the year’s Top Knight.

“He such a great guy, a really great guy,” Knight Joseph Reese said of Doyle. “He’s really done a lot for our council and he’s well-loved and well-respected.”

Indeed he is.

Doyle says getting to interact with brother Knights and to be of service for others makes it all well worth the while.

“The camaraderie is great,” Doyle said. “The brother Knights are all great guys.”

And if he could offer just a bit of advice to teenagers — or young people in general — who might be going through a bad patch, he says, “Always keep going. Excel at what you do. Don’t try to beat around the bush. When my father was 19 years old, he lost his mom. You never know what could happen. Grab the bull by the horns and run.”

Learn more about the writer ...

Editor & Broadcaster at 

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.