By Kristen Miller
HUTCHINSON, MN The life of Joe Dooley, a 1971 Dassel High School graduate and stunt pilot, will be honored at the Hutchinson Municipal Airport by having the terminal named after him.
Dooley died at the age of 56 Dec. 25, 2009, 20 months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
A young Dooley grew up on a farm on the west side of Lake Jennie and was the son of Joseph and Muriel Dooley.
His friend and neighbor, Lyle Bishman, had a grass strip on his property, which is how Dooley was introduced to flying. However, it wasn’t until 1977 that Joe began taking flying lessons in Glencoe, which is also where he met his wife of 30 years, Cheryl.
Together, the couple shared their love for flying and flew all over the country. Since they both owned their own businesses in Hutchinson Joe owned Dooley Construction and Cheryl owned Hometown Realty it was easier for them to get away, Cheryl commented.
When asked where the couple had been together, she replied, “It would be easier to say where we haven’t been.”
Flying just wasn’t challenging enough for Dooley so he taught himself to fly aerobatics.
“He never did anything half-way that’s just how he was made up,” Cheryl said.
In 1990, Dooley began flying in air shows around the country flying at 260 locations in about 500 performances, according to his obituary. Some of his stunts can even be seen on YouTube.
In Dooley’s eulogy, told by his friend Jeff Green, Dooley had said many times that he would likely die in an airplane performing one of his maneuvers not by an incurable disease.
“Sadly, Joe’s time with us proved to be more limited than he and all of us hoped,” Green said in the eulogy that was read at Dooley’s funeral Dec. 31.
“We prayed he would sneak into a corner of the survival chart that very few get to. That he would somehow crouch down under the curve and be forgotten by the dreadful statistics.
“As it was, his fortitude and his treatments carried him well past the dire predictions made two years ago.”
After his death, Dooley’s friends and relatives went to the Hutchinson City Council, asking the members to consider naming the airport terminal in his honor, and the city agreed.
It is stated in the resolution: “Joe served as an Airport Commission member in three separate decades; assisted city staff with issues related to operations at the airport; was always willing to assist people with questions they had about aircraft, aviation operations, and operations at the Hutchinson Municipal Airport.”
A dedication is tentatively set for Saturday, Aug. 7, according to Joe’s CaringBridge site, which Cheryl continues to update.
Read Dooley’s full obituary inside.