King Doyle, longtime president of King Milling, dies

by Eric Schroeder
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LOWELL, MICH. — King Doyle, who served as president of King Milling Co. in Lowell for 50 years, passed away on Oct. 23 in Florida. He was 88 years old.

At the age of 23, King Doyle became president of King Milling in 1945 when his father, William, passed away suddenly. At the time his father died, Mr. Doyle was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was given a 90-day emergency leave so he could get his father’s affairs in order. By the time the 90 days were up, the war had ended.

The business had been established 55 years earlier, in 1890, after Superior Mill filed for bankruptcy. At its founding, the facility produced 390 cwts of flour per day. The Doyle family became involved with King Milling in 1900 when William’s father Thomas Doyle purchased stock in the company.

In 1943, the old Superior Mill burnt to the ground. The Doyle family, under the leadership of Thomas’ son William, took the opportunity to upgrade the mill. A state-of-the-art concrete mill was completed in 1945. The mill had daily capacity of 600 cwts of flour produced and could store 80,000 bus of wheat.

King and his brother Mike, who joined the company as vice-president after duty in the Army during the Korean conflict, were one of the first to convert to the “new” pneumatic system of conveying flour. King’s son Brian and Mike’s sons Jim and Stephen joined the company in the early 1980s. Together with their fathers they increased the daily capacity of the mill to a fully automated 5,400 cwts. Additionally, the company built a whole wheat mill capable of producing 5,000 cwts of whole wheat products per day. The storage capacity was increased to approximately 2,800,000 bus of wheat.

In 1995 King and Mike became less active in the daily operations of the company as Brian became president, Jim became senior vice-president, and Stephen became vice-president. Brian, Jim and Stephen changed the milling mix to add hard wheat flour and organic flour to both the white and whole wheat mills. They also improved the heat-treated flour (Ceres) process developed by their fathers in the 1960s.

In October 2002, King Doyle was elected an honorary member of the North American Millers’ Association.
King is survived by his wife, Marie, of 30 years and was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary Louise. He is also survived by daughters, Louise (Carl) Berasi; Sharon (Bill) Hawkins; and Karen (Fred) Adelman; sons, Brian (Cheryl) and Kevin (Rennell); step-daughter, Maeve Metzger; and 11 grandchildren.

A memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 30 at St. Mary’s Church in Lowell. Friends may meet the family after the mass in St. Mary’s Family Center. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to St. Mary’s Church, 402 Amity Street, Lowell, MI 49331, Lowell Rotary Club Educational Foundation, Lowell Area Arts Council, or Lowell Area Historical Museum.

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