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86-Year-Old Woman Dies in Chelsea House Fire 

  • Jim Doyle of Chelsea, Vt., stands beside the ruins of his mother's home on Dec. 4, 2017. His mother, Alice Doyle, 86, died in the home after an early morning fire. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The home of Alice Doyle in Chelsea Vt., on Dec. 4, 2017. Doyle, 86, died inside her home in a fire early in the morning. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Alice Doyle, center, prepares lunch with the Chelsea Service Guild at the United Church of Chelsea in Chelsea, Vt., on March 6, 2007, with Marlene Reed and Sadie Kennedy. At left is Carl Benjamin. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, December 04, 2017

Chelsea — An 86-year-old woman who was an integral part of the Chelsea community for decades died early Monday in a fire that destroyed her Corinth Road home.

Investigators said they located what they believe to be the body of Alice Doyle within the ruins of the home, which caught fire during the overnight hours of Monday and was a total loss by the time the Chelsea Fire Department arrived at 6:02 a.m., officials said.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, but it is not considered suspicious, according to a Vermont State Police news release.

Family members and friends stopped by the scene on Monday, many peering down into the foundation where Doyle’s home once stood. There was nothing left of the single-story structure.

“Everybody knew my mom,” Doyle’s daughter, Sandy, said. “She really loved life.”

One of her favorite pastimes was dancing, and she got in her final dance on Saturday at the Shindigs at the Tunbridge Town Hall, her daughter said.

“Now she’ll be dancing with my dad,” Sandy Doyle said.

Family members gathered inside the nearby home of Jim Doyle, Alice’s son.

Alice Doyle’s husband, Merlin Thomas “Tuffy” Doyle, died in 2014 at age 88.

The Doyles started their life together in Chelsea in the early 1950s when they bought land on Corinth Road and started a dairy farm. That farm, which the couple worked for more than 40 years, is still operating today at the hands of their son, Jim.

Both Doyles were active in the Lady Washington Order of the Eastern Star Chapter No. 86 and the VFW, among several other groups in town. The Doyles would often set up for parades, lining Main Street in Chelsea with American flags. They also would place flags on the graves of veterans, according to Tuffy Doyle’s obituary.

“She was very friendly, very outgoing,” said Donarae Metcalf, Worthy Matron of the Eastern Star. “She kept us entertained by her goodness and silliness and all of the good things she did.”

“She was just so full of life, and she was very well-liked by everybody,” said Town Lister Phyllis Hayward. “I don’t know if anyone would ever say a bad word about her.”

Will Gilman, the owner of Will’s Store, called Monday a “very sad day for the community.”

“She was a lively character,” said Gilman, who knew Alice Doyle through family members as well as through dealings at the store.

“She was full of energy and was always singing and telling stories,” he said. “She danced through life.”

Giving to others was something she was passionate about, Gilman recalled. She would often hand out toys or gifts at Christmastime and give treats during Halloween. At 86, Doyle was still driving and led an active lifestyle.

“She just loved life and and loved to give,” he said.

Chelsea Fire Chief John Upham said on Monday that his department responded to a report of a structure fire at 95 Corinth Road at 5:58 a.m. and got there four minutes later, but was too late to save the home.

“The house was a total loss,” he said.

Doyle was the lone occupant of the home. An autopsy is pending to assist in identification, Vermont State Police said.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.