Auctioneer Robert A. Doyle got the surprise of his career when he was inducted into the National Auctioneers Association’s Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 15. Not only was the principal auctioneer of Absolute Auctions & Realty, Inc completely unaware of his impending honor, but nearly three dozen of his immediate family members and employees had also managed to keep it a secret for months that they planned to travel to Orlando, Fla., to attend the induction.
The closing ceremony of the NAA’s annual conference and show dinner program is the Hall of Fame presentation to three deserving auctioneers. An NAA member gradually peels back the layers of accomplishments and personal details of an honoree until the recipient’s identity is revealed. The suspense (and fun) builds as attendees thumb through their mental Rolodexes for auctioneers who fit the bill.
Indeed, just as it began to dawn on Doyle that he was the first of three 2006 Hall of Fame inductees, tablemate Steve Van Gordon snapped a telling shot of the widening, uneasy grin spreading across his face. High-pressure public speaking coming with the territory for an auctioneer, Doyle delivered his heartfelt and entertaining acceptance speech with aplomb.
“I am overwhelmed and incredibly thankful,” Doyle told the crowd of nearly 1,600 auctioneers. “Each year, as I admire the inductees, I have found myself wondering whether in 15 to 20 years, maybe, my continual work for the auctioneering profession might make me worthy of consideration. I never expected it to happen this soon, and I am deeply touched by this honor.”
As the presenter began reciting Doyle’s many accomplishments, a group of more than 30 relatives and coworkers snuck into the back of the room and quietly began working their way to the dais. Joining Doyle’s wife of 34 years, Susan (also an auctioneer), were their two daughters, grandson and granddaughter; Doyle’s brother and sisters; several in-laws and nieces; and two full-time staff members. After months of near-misses involving errant group emails and clandestine phone calls, they were clearly overjoyed to finally let the cat out of the bag and express their congratulations.
Doyle is only the second auctioneer from New York State to be inducted. Doyle shares the distinction of being only one of two New York auctioneers elected president of the NAA (Doyle served as its 50th president in 1998-99). Doyle is also the only auctioneer to have served as president of the New York City association, the New York State association and the NAA.
Doyle and his fellow 2006 honorees, Robert G. Frey of Archbold, Ohio, and George M. Kurtz of Morganfield, Ky., were selected from more than 5,600 NAA members. Created in 1961, the Auctioneer Hall of Fame includes 117 inductees. Doyle has the distinction of being one of the youngest honorees – if not the youngest – to be inducted.
For the past 25 years, Doyle has prospered as an auctioneer in New York’s picturesque Dutchess County. A big believer in sharing his decades of knowledge with fellow practitioners (Doyle’s motto as NAA president was “Dare to Share”), he has traveled to 33 states for speaking engagements and to meet the members of the various state auctioneering associations.
Though his contributions are varied and plentiful, Doyle’s primary legacies to the auctioneering profession include the foundation of a women’s division in the International Auction Championship, which awards prizes based on such skills as bid-calling proficiency, stage presence and command of the audience, and the development of a virtual national museum of auctioneering, which will contain a web-based compendium of images, historical data and other auctioneering materials designed to provide a rich wellspring of easily accessed information.
“I still have more work to do,” mused Doyle. “This honor will definitely motivate me to see what more I can accomplish in the name of auctioneering.”