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Friday, December 16, 2016

John Dooley's 1998 death lead to J. H. Graham's first term as mayor

(Editor's note: Originally written as a year end story from 1998, Dooley's death was one of the top ten stories from 18 years ago.)

Dooley's death quieted Crossville City politics 18 years ago

Long-time Crossville politician and City Councilman John Dooley was found dead in his Greenbriar subdivision home Friday October 2, 1998 after city staff and friends had been unable to contact him for two days.

Dooley's death at age 72 closed a long and varied political career that included three two-year terms as Mayor of Crossville and an over 20 year tenure of service as a city council member. At the time of his death Mr. Dooley was gearing up for the final four week push in a campaign for a four-year term as Crossville's mayor.

Dooley's death was ruled to be of natural causes. He had had a history of heart problems including a previous heart bypass. The first officer on the scene found Mr. Dooley in the bedroom of his home, dead of apparent natural causes.

Dooley was one of only two candidates who qualified for 1998's Crossville Mayoral election. A campaign that was expected to be spirited and possibly contentious became suddenly quiet and uncontested.

With no challenger, the remaining candidate, then city council member J.H. Graham, III became Crossville's mayor following November balloting.

Graham commented in October on the passing of his political opponent and colleague saying, "I considered John Dooley one of Cumberland County's hardest working public servants."

At the time of Mr. Dooley's death, then Crossville Mayor Earl Dean commented, "It's such a shock." Dean added, "John had his own way of doing things, but he always had the best interest of Crossville at heart."

Shortly before his death, Mr. Dooley had buttons made that said "Act glad to see me." He wore and handed out the buttons to friends and acquaintances. Dooley also made constant use of fax machine to send out jokes, cartoons and his opinions. He was a one-man publicity department.

John Dooley's famous "Act Glad to See Me" button

At the close of his career, Mr. Dooley was still strongly sharing his opinion on issues including the Highway's, Inc. paving overcharges, the cost of water production and the price that should be charged to the utility districts to buy city produced water.

During his 25 years of service to the city of Crossville, Dooley served three terms as Mayor, 1965-66, 1973-74 and 1979-80. He was first elected to city office as Water Commissioner in 1959. Dooley also served 12 years on the Cumberland County Commission and one term as a State Representative in the Tennessee General Assembly. In addition, Dooley made an unsuccessful run for the U. S. Congress.

For over 40 years, Dooley worked in and operated a Crossville retail grocery store, Dooley's Food Town Supermarket that he inherited from his father. Dooley was sometimes compared to Knoxville's well-known grocer/politician Cas Walker who died a few weeks before Mr. Dooley. Both men had a definite style that could often rub those who disagreed with them the wrong way. Dooley's Food Town closed when Mr. Dooley retired several years ago and the building torn down when the Fourth Street property was sold to TAP Publications for their most recent building expansion.

Dooley served 35 years as a volunteer fireman, organized the City of Crossville's auxiliary police department and served as an auxiliary police officer for 14 years. In addition, Dooley helped organize and served as the first board chairman for both the local Boy's and Girl's club organizations. Dooley was also active in the Crossville American Legion post, serving as its treasurer at the time of his death.

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