Leonard William Dooren
Leonard (Len) Dooren, 96, died at Eddy Village Green in Cohoes on Christmas Day, 2012.Len was born in Paterson, NJ, the first of three children born to Florence and Peter Dooren. He had an uncommon generosity, a zest for life and many natural abilities so that his accomplishments were numerous and spanned careers in both the public and private sectors.
Growing up, Len was an ace student but had to quit high school to run his father's milk route. Each morning at 2 a.m. he would hitch the horses to the wagon, ride to the dairy, load the wagon with milk, cream and butter, and deliver the goods to homes throughout the area.
But Len was a dreamer, and in 1935 when he was eighteen years old, he responded to the invitation printed on the poster in the window of the local recruiting office to, "Join the Navy and See the World." It was a beacon of opportunity during those years of the Great Depression. He applied on the spot.
Early in his Navy career, Len welcomed the challenge of learning new skills and living life aboard ship. And during leave with his best buddy, Charlie, he met Charlie's sister, Dorothy "Dolly" Van Wert, the woman of his dreams. Len and Dolly were married in 1940 in Honolulu, Hawaii where Len was stationed aboard the USS New Orleans CA32.
On the morning of December 7, 1941 they heard the thunder of the low-flying airplanes and ran outside their base apartment to investigate. Len recognized the Japanese symbol, a red circle, on the wings of the planes. He locked eyes with one of the pilots and immediately knew the port was under attack. He ran to his ship which, at the time, was without power because the engines were under repair. He fired on the planes from the deck of the ship with only a pistol. Dolly remained in the apartment, protecting their baby daughter with a pillow. More than 2,400 Americans were killed that day, more than 1,000 wounded.
In the years that followed, until 1945 when hostilities ceased, the New Orleans CA32 was involved in seventeen Pacific battles, including the Battle of Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway and the Battle of Eastern Solomons. She was among the highest decorated ships of the Second World War. Len received a commendation for his actions during the Battle of Tassafaronga on November 30, 1942 when a Japanese torpedo blew the bow off the ship, killing 180 of the ship's crew. It was the same day that he received the news that his brother, Bobby Dooren, had been killed in action aboard the USS Hornet.
Len served in the Navy for twenty-three years and achieved the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CWO 3), the highest rank possible for an enlisted man at the time. His specialty was in engineering and the operation of boilers and machinery.
When he retired from the Navy in 1958, Len first worked as an engineering inspector in the field of industrial insurance. He quickly advanced during his twenty-five years in the business to management positions with Mutual Boiler and Machinery Insurance Co., Arkwright-Boston Insurance Co., and served as Vice President of Coroon and Black of New York, Inc., insurance brokers and consultants.
After years of seeing the world, Len settled with Dolly in their home on Queechy Lake in Canaan, NY where he was active in the Queechy Lake Club, the Canaan Historical Society and the Northern Columbia County Rotary. He was elected to serve four terms as Supervisor of the Town of Canaan, 1992 through 1999, the job he loved most of all. He enjoyed working with the people of the town and finally seeing a new town hall built. Of his tenure he said, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
Len and Dolly spent their final years together at Hawthorne Ridge, a retirement community in East Greenbush, NY. Together they raised five children and their granddaughter, Jennifer Dorothy Lee. On June 17, 2012 they celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary. Dolly Died October 28, and Len two months later.
He is survived by four children, Noralen Cowell and her husband, Dave, of Westfield, NJ, Dorothy Dooren of New Lebanon, NY, Leonard Dooren, Jr. and his wife, Vivian, of Brick, NJ and Douglas Dooren and his wife, Christina, of Avon, CT; six grandchildren, Leonard and Craig Dooren, David, Matthew and Grant Cowell and Jennifer Lee; Eleven great-grandchildren, Katie Mae, Caroline, Claire, Cory, Connor, Gavin and Juliana Dooren, and Grant, Grace, Ryan and Genevieve Cowell; and a sister, Florence Christie of New Port Richey, FL. He is predeceased by his daughter, Terry Susan Dooren-Lee, son-in-law Chien Chung Lee and brother, Bobby Dooren.
FUNERAL NOTICE: Relatives and friends are invited to his funeral service 10 o'clock Saturday morning at the Canaan Congregational church, corner of County Route 295 and County Route 5 Canaan. Friends are invited to his calling Hours Friday evening 2 to 4 at the Rockefeller funeral home 165 Columbia Tpk. Rensselaer, NY 12144. Interment will be in the Dutch Reformed Cemetery Rt 9H Claverack, NY.. The family has requested that those who wish make memorial contributions in his name to either the Canaan Historical Society 411 Frisbee St East Chatham, NY 12060 or the Queechy lake association P. O. Box 92 Canaan, NY 12029. Light a condolence candle at www.wjrockefeller.com