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Dooley does plenty to heighten spirits and stresses teamwork

Sitting in the Screven County Chamber of Commerce office minutes before she would head virtually next door to the First Baptist Church Social Hall for the annual chamber banquet, Barbara Dooley voiced a rather shocking revelation.

“I don’t plan things,” said Dooley, the keynote speaker of the Jan. 29 event. “I didn’t plan to get married. It just happened. I didn’t plan to have children. It just happened.”

And the wife of University of Georgia icon did not plan to become a public speaker either. It just happened.

“I wasn’t looking that,” Dooley said. “This career path that I am on now, it was dumped into my lap.”

Married to Vince for nearly 50 years and the mother of four, Dooley said a speaker came to Athens years ago and Dooley was asked to introduce him at the meeting. Dooley did so well with that presentation that the speaker pulled her to the side later to tell her that she should take her act on the road.

Dooley, at first, dismissed the notion, but then embraced it. Now she makes speeches throughout the South four or fewer times a month.

For a lady who admits she does not make plans, Dooley’s life has fared very well and Sylvania was glad to have her speak.

“She was a hoot,” said Darlene Anthony, who first talked to Dooley in the chamber office and then sat with the keynote speaker at one of the head tables in the social hall of the Sylvania church.

Dooley gave the 300-plus in attendance at the 35th annual meeting a dose of just some of the hijinks she has experienced as the spouse of man who was revered as the UGA head football coach and athletic director. She used her stories of mayhem as a humorous way to promote the night’s theme of “teamwork.”

“The way you see her here is the way she has always been,” said Tom Avret, who graduated from AuburnUniversity with Dooley, a lady of keen wit.

Her Thursday evening visit to Sylvania would not be Dooley’s first to ScrevenCounty. Back in 2002, Dooley faced off against Max Burns to be the Republican candidate for the 12th District seat to the U.S. House of Representatives. Burns, whose hometown was Sylvania, would eventually go on to serve a term in Congress.

“I didn’t make a very good impression,” said a smiling Dooley before heading to the social hall. She said she did learn during her last stop in ScrevenCounty not to ask a farmer how many acres he owns – it indicates how much money that farmer has.

In front of a crowd seated at circular tables at the banquet, Dooley added some comments about her last visit this part of the state.

“The last time I was here I was begging for votes and I don’t think I got one vote,” Dooley said. In actuality, Dooley received 122 votes to Burns’ 1,408 in August 2002.

Barbara, however, wasn’t the only occupant of the Dooley household who had possible political aspirations. Vince himself considered a gubernatorial run in 1989.

“Vince was thinking about running for governor and it was big news in Atlanta,” Dooley, a breast cancer survivor, told the crowd after they finished eating a meal catered by R&D’s Restaurant.

With such a candidate possibility floating out there, various media outlets jumped on the chance to weigh in on the issue – including personality Ludlow Porch, who broadcasted a radio talk show out of the PeachState’s capital city.

Radio listeners initially called in to the show with positive comments about Vince Dooley, said Barbara of her husband.

“I just love Vince Dooley,” one said. Another: “I just love Vince Dooley.”

But that would change.

“I hate the University of Georgia,” a reader said.

With that Ludlow asked to think about why she did not want Dooley as governor. After a commercial, the show came back and this was the female listener’s reply: “I couldn’t stand four years of Barbara.”

Even when someone was happy with the Dooleys, it may not turn out too well.

When the couple was going to Bulldog Clubs throughout the state, the Dooleys stopped at a convenience store. While Vince was using the bathroom, a man at the next urinal over abruptly turned toward coach Dooley when the gentleman noticed who was standing next to him. This sudden action got coach Dooley wet – but not with water.

So he came out and asked his wife if she had a hairdryer. When Vince told Barbara what had occurred, Mrs. Dooley said “You are going to need more than a hairdryer.”

“If you were to ask Vince how long have ya’ll been married, he would say ’45 happy years’ and that’s not bad out of 49,” she said of her husband who was in Camilla the night of the ScrevenCounty banquet.

Dooley, however, did have her serious moments that involved love and team.

She said that when she travels in an airport, Dooley routinely hears people say “I love you” to those who are arriving and departing.

“If there is this much love, why are there so many problems,” Dooley said. “Love is volunteerism. Love is helping your neighbor.”

Mrs. Dooley said people should not judge others. Instead, she urged individuals to “get to know those people.”

She said individuals must consider the “integrity of a person and are they trustworthy. Are you trustworthy?”

Dooley backed up her statement with

“You have to have faith,” Dooley said. “Boy, do I need faith. We should be on our knees. We must be working as a team.

“We know who is in control and it is not us,” she said. “No matter what you have done God will always love us. He is steady in his love.

“The greatest gift you can leave your children is your name,” Dooley said. “That is the greatest gift.”

To conclude her speech, Dooley sang her favorite song “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” with Stevie Wonder’s providing most of vocal punch. Dooley then asked everyone to rise to their feet. When her song finale was done, the crowd clapped.

“I told Vince I would get a standing ovation,” said Dooley, who autographed her new book “Put Me in Coach” during the evening.

A silent auction to raise more funds for the OldJailMuseum was held upstairs at the social hall. Door prizes also were given out to those in attendance.