Years later, a young man still brings friends together



A charity golf outing will take place tomorrow, Sept. 12, at noon at the Ramblewood Country Club in Mt. Laurel, N.J., to remember Michael J. Doyle, a Cherry Hill resident and St. Mary’s parishioner killed 21 years ago in the Lockerbie, Scotland terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103.

An hour after lifting off from London’s Heathrow Airport on Dec. 21, 1988, a bomb exploded in the plane, killing all 259 people on the plane, and killing 11 on the ground. Last month, the man convicted of the attack, Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, was released from a Scotland prison after serving 27 years, sparking outrage around the world, especially in the United States.

Many of those killed were American college students heading home for Christmas.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York termed Scotland’s decision to release Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, “a sad and perplexing mistake.”

“While as a follower of Jesus Christ I believe in mercy, I also believe that mercy must be tempered with justice,” Archbishop Dolan said. “Mercy can be demonstrated in ways other than by releasing a man responsible for so much pain, suffering and death. Those who lost loved ones also deserve mercy and justice.”

Peter Sullivan, Doyle’s best friend and classmate at Cherry Hill High School East (class of 1976) and the University of Dayton (class of 1980), organized the event, which started in 1989 at the country club where the two would occasionally hit the links. A Strongsville, Ohio resident, Sullivan makes the trip each year to remember his friend, and reconnect with those who also remember Doyle.

“This outing has always been a celebration of Mike’s life and the lives of the other 269 victims, and of renewing and establishing friendships,” Sullivan remarked, adding that the “celebration will not be deterred nor will the spirit be marred by the Scottish miscarriage of justice in releasing Al Megrahi.”

Proceeds from the golf outing go to a scholarship fund for University of Dayton accounting students. Through the 2009-10 school year, the Michael J. Doyle Memorial Scholarship Fund has awarded 53 scholarships totaling $131, 500. Currently valued at more than $265,000, the fund will continue to help accounting students for years to come.

Doyle “had a ton of friends and he was pretty spectacular at being able to bring people together,” mentioned Sullivan. “I’m not surprised that we still come together in his memory.”

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