Helen (Penny) Flanagan Doyle, 95, researched wing design for NASA before becoming math teacher

Helen (Penny) Flanagan Doyle, of Virginia Beach, died Sept. 26, 2015, at the age of 95.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Mayor Roy C. and Helen P. Flanagan, of Greenville, North Carolina and beloved siblings, Mary Gaskill Flanagan (Mrs. Walter Harrington), R. C. Flanagan Jr., Edward Stuart (Red) Flanagan and Travis H. Flanagan.

Penny embraced life and never met a stranger she wouldn’t speak to. In high school, she received the senior superlative for “Most Talkative” and excelled on the debate team. She attended the Woman’s College of North Carolina and graduated from Eastern Carolina Teacher’s College.

Before beginning her teaching career, she used her mathematics degree doing research on wing design for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (currently NASA) at Langley Field and served with the Red Cross. It is ironic that her father chaired the Pitt County Republican Executive Committee, since Penny was a fierce democrat.

She was a die-hard UNC Tar Heel basketball fan! Only “life or death” calls were taken during a game! Her Tar Heel basketball highlight was being in the Superdome when UNC won the 1993 NCAA championship.

However, teaching math was her passion. Her lessons were sprinkled with humor and encouragement. She started teaching at Thomas Jefferson J. H. in Arlington followed by Virginia Beach’s Star of the Sea Catholic Elementary; Princess Anne High School; Alanton Elementary School and Lynnhaven Junior High School. In Mrs. Doyle’s classes there were no free passes!

Penny is survived by her seven adoring children who are simply in awe of her ability to make each of them feel that they were her “favorite”: Stephen and Jana Doyle, of Blacksburg; Jim and Kerry Doyle of Severna Park, Maryland; David Doyle and Annabel Grice, of Armidale NSW, Australia; Cherry Reynolds of Houston; Holly and Steve Hepner, of Stephenson; Sally and Marvin Miller of Sterling; and John Sanderson (Sandy) Doyle, of Virginia Beach. She is also survived by 14 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and hundreds of children who called her Alanton Drive house their second home.

A memorial service was held Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church.

Penny was extremely proud of Eastern Shore Chapel’s commitment to its congregation and community. In lieu of flowers please support the Eastern Shore Chapel Pantry.

Thanks to all who loved and cared for mom throughout her life, especially the staff at Atria Senior Living, Westminster Canterbury Rehab, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Medi Home Health & Hospice.

As she always said, “I just want everyone to be happy, healthy and safe!”

Please leave online condolences for the family at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apt.

To view the full list of Southside Daily obituaries, click here.

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