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Joseph P. Dooley, 56

Joseph Patrick Dooley, age 56, of Hutchinson, formerly of Dassel, passed away peacefully Friday, Dec. 25, 2009, at his home, following a 20-month battle with cancer.

He was born March 21, 1953, the son of Joseph and Muriel (Wagner) Dooley. Joe grew up on a farm on the west side of Lake Jennie in Meeker County. His early years were spent helping with chores on the family farm and riding bikes, scooters, motorcycles, and anything else with a motor. When Joe was 12 years old, his mother died.

Joe grew up to be independent. In high school, he often held three jobs at a time so that he could have the toys active boys hope for. He loved to live on the wild side of things.

In 1976, Joe went through treatment for alcoholism. He pursued sobriety with the same zest that he did everything in his life. Joe always said that the best things that happened in his life were sobriety, then his marriage to his best friend, Cheryl (Fay) in 1979, followed by learning to fly.

Joe obtained his pilot’s license in 1977, but quickly grew bored with normal flying and taught himself to fly aerobatics by reading everything available and practicing endlessly.

In 1990, he started flying in air shows professionally. During his 17 years on the air show circuit, Joe flew at 260 locations with about 500 performances. For three years, Joe had the honor of performing before thousands of pilots at the EAA-sponsored “Airventure” in Oshkosh, WI.

Joe was active on the airport commission at the Hutchinson Municipal Airport and was very involved in all of the planning and expansion of the airport.

He became a certified flight instructor and when his health no longer let him do air shows, he put his energy and skills into teaching others to fly.

Joe accumulated over 7,000 hours during his flying career.

In addition to professional flying, he was also a self-employed contractor for more than 30 years. He worked as a lone craftsman and was pleased that he never had to advertise for work and was able to choose the jobs he did.

Joe and Cheryl traveled extensively throughout the country during their 32 years together. In addition to traveling to air shows, where Cheryl (also a pilot) sometimes was the announcer for the show, Joe and Cheryl took many plane and motorcycle trips with friends and family.

The motto Joe lived his life by was “Life is not a dress rehearsal. Live each day as if it were your last.” That’s exactly what he did.

Joe was preceded in death by his mother and father; sister Patricia Rogness; nephew Brian Dooley, brother-in-law Wally Hombach, mother-in-law Lillian Fay; and many other friends and family.

He is survived by his wife, Cheryl Dooley; brother and sister-in-law Daniel and Joanne Dooley of Hutchinson; foster sister Maryanne Weidt and her husband, David of Minneapolis; sisters-in-law Becky Volkman and her husband, Art of Redgranite, WI; Colleen Perrone and her husband, Salvatore of Boca Raton, FL; and Kathy Silvernale and her husband, Mike of Hutchinson; father-in-law Frank Fay and his wife, Margaret of Hutchinson; and nieces and nephews.

Services have been held.