Everything was still and quiet on December 14, 1930, in the sleepy little farming town of Wardell, located in Pemiscot County in the bootheel of Southeast Missouri about half way between Kennett and Portageville. When the first rays of winter sunlight began to spill over the horizon of the sandy flatlands that surrounded the town, most of the sturdy breed of farm folk who inhabited the area thought it would be just a typical frigid winter day, but to one young couple, John Clinton and Bertha Alice Dooley, it would be a very special day because it would bring the birth of their fourth child—a son whom they affectionately named J. G. Dooley.
On hand to greet J.G. when he made his entrance into the growing Dooley family were his two big brothers, Elmer and Willis; and his big sister, Ivalene. Later God gave J. G. a little brother, Louis. He humorously told the story on more than one occasion that when he was born he was so ugly that his mother borrowed a baby from a neighbor woman to take around to show her friends.
J. G. spent his early childhood in the Wardell Community watching his hometown struggle to recover from the economic hardships of the Great Depression that resulted from the collapse of the U.S. stock market in 1928, two years before his birth. Then John Dooley decided to move his family from Pemiscot County, Missouri to Northeast Arkansas’ Clay County where J. G. lived for the next 79 years of his life. I guess you could say, “He was a fixture around here.”
J. G. grew into quite a self-made man. In spite of the fact that his educational career spanned only from grades 1-5, he managed to make an adequate living for his family. He had a remarkable sense of humor. One of his favorite tales was that he spent the best six years of his life in the 5th grade. He eventually got old enough to ask the teacher out on a date so they kicked him out of school!
J. G. made his way through his teenage years and into young adulthood and then, as almost always happens to young men, a local girl caught his attention. She was the daughter of Riley and Ruby Hirons—and her name was Lola. When he was 18 years old, J. G. Dooley took Lola Hirons to be his lawful wedded wife during a simple ceremony conducted at Rector on September 8, 1949 by local pastor, Rev. Brittingham. Another one of J. G.’s favorite stories was that he didn’t get to take Lola on a real date until after they were married, because either his mother or her father went with them everywhere they went. J. G. and Lola walked together through both the joys and heartaches of life for the next 45 years, four months, and 20 days until God called Lola away on January 28, 1995.
God added to the union of J. G. and Lola five children. Garry was born on June 1, 1951. Patricia made her way into the Dooley family on May 14, 1953. J. G. and Lola grieved when Deborah Sue was born on January 28, 1955, to live only two months and 10 days until she died on April 7, 1955. Randal was born on February 16, 1956. Then J. G. and Lola’s family was completed when Ronda made her appearance on May 17, 1964.
Also included in the heritage of J. G. and Lola Dooley are seven grandchildren—Bart, Wendy, Jeremy, Holly, Jana, Jo, and Gabriele; along with four great-grandchildren—Katelyn, Bailey, Jeremy, Thaily, and one on the way!
J. G. made a living for his family as a truck driver. He began his driving career working for Bradsher Trucking Company of Rector, which was later bought out by ABF Trucking. J. G. retired from ABF in 1970, but as most of you know, he never retired from running his mouth. On one occasion, someone told J. G. something that caught him by surprise. He replied, “I’m speechless.” Several bystanders then replied, “Now I’m speechless!”
J. G. was blessed when God gave him a wonderful new companion. On June 24, 1995 J. G. married Shirley Gregory during a ceremony conducted by Rev. Marston Carpenter at the White Oak General Baptist Church of Rector. That day, Shirley vowed to stay by J. G. “in sickness and in health till death do us part,” and she certainly kept that vow!
No doubt, J. G. Dooley had many wonderful experiences during his lifetime, but by far the greatest happened sometime in 1954 when as an adult, he attended a St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball game at Busch Stadium with several of his fellow ABF drivers. One of the guys had a little too much to drink during the game and on the way back to the lot where they had parked, he got a little unruly. As a result they were all arrested. After spending a night in jail, J. G. decided he needed the Lord.
God had placed Christians in J. G.’s path at various times and places during his life who had loved him enough to tell him the “Jesus Story.” So after a night in jail, J. G. decided to seriously believe that story, and when he did, Jesus gave him the incredible gift of eternal life! Later he was baptized and attended various churches. He finally settled into the First General Baptist Church of Rector where he served the Lord as long as his health permitted.
Because J. G. believed the “Jesus Story,” today we do not simply grieve his passing. We celebrate his home-going which occurred on April 6, 2017, at 11:25 a.m. when God gently called J. G. to Himself from his bed at his home at 207 Main Street in Rector, Ark. Because he believed the “Jesus Story,” J. G. lived here for 86 years, three months, and 13 days and then he stepped into the outstretched arms of the Savior who died from him more than 2,000 years ago!
Funeral Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday April 8, 2017, at the Rector First General Baptist Church with Bro. Mark Book and Kenny Burns officiating. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. until service time at the church. Interment will be at Woodland Heights Cemetery in Rector under the direction of Irby Funeral Home.
Those who wish may sign the online guestbook at www.irbyfuneralhome.com or visit their Facebook page.