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William DOONER


1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
William DOONER Obituary
DOONER, William J. "Bill" William (Bill) J. Dooner was born October 16, 1931, and following a brief battle with cancer went joyfully to Heaven on "All Soul's Day", November 2, 2017 at the age of 86, surrounded by his family. In 1959, I, Ellie (Eleanor Yordy) married the love of my life. I was a Mennonite farmer's daughter from Morton, Illinois. Bill was a Roman Catholic, recovering alcoholic from Harlem in New York City. This proves that God has a great sense of humor! I knew it would be an exciting ride with Bill but had no idea of the depth or width that was soon to unfold for the next 58 years. He was my best friend, my movie date, and my big-thinking buddy. His Irish immigrant parents, James and Marion (McCarthy) Dooner, raised Bill, his brother, and sister during the Depression on a meager income. Bill's young life was not easy with the struggles that come with poverty, but due to his pluck, he quickly became an entrepreneur at the tender age of 9 years old. Much of his fortitude stemmed from his deep devotion to Mary, The Mother of Jesus. His faith was inspired by his own mother who prayed the Rosary daily. He loved Alcoholics Anonymous because the program saved his life. He was introduced to AA as a teenager in NYC and then later joined AA on August 18, 1955 while homeless in Chicago. He didn't just love the program, he loved alcoholics and was especially devoted to the newcomer. He said he saw himself in each one of them. In Memphis, he regularly attended his 5:30 home group meeting, "Came to Believe". Over his 62 years of sobriety, he was softened as a person and touched the lives of so many. As a young Civil Rights activist in the early 60's, Bill was passionate about justice and equality. He loved fighting for a good cause without reservation, which motivated him to help start 14 minority businesses. His efforts earned Springfield, Illinois the "All-American City" award in 1969. His love for business, his amazing creative mind, and his love for people propelled him to great success over the years. Some of his ventures were: outdoor advertising (billboards), restaurants, hotels, and two alcohol and drug treatment centers in Astoria, Oregon. Plans for a new treatment center in Memphis are underway. In 1989, he also received the "Christian Businessman of the Year" award from Religious Heritage of America. Among his other activities, he loved being a board member of Operation Blessing, an organization that works with disaster torn countries across the globe. He also was a founding board member of Regent University in Virginia Beach. Bill had wit, humor, and brilliance that couldn't be matched. He was fearless. He was generous, kind, and humble. He lived life passionately and uninhibitedly. He was blessed with a photographic memory. He learned something interesting about each person he met. Diagnosed in July with aggressive and invasive sinus cancer, he underwent two surgeries. The last month was a time for the family to be with him in our home saying their good-byes and their thank-yous. Our children and grandchildren watched him through the night, took him to radiation, held his hand, sang hymns to him, and strolled him in the wheelchair. We used this time to make more memories like 3:00am pancakes at Perkins and an afternoon in Tunica. But I think his favorite outing was two days before he died when we wheeled him to what would be his final AA meeting. His home group welcomed him and surrounded him with love. Bill often said that all the miracles in his life were the result of his mother's prayers. Bill lived on gratitude one day at a time. He knew where he was going: home to Heaven to be with Jesus, and all those he loved and who had gone before him. And we know we will see him again. Our Family is: Daughters-- Julia Azar (Fred) of Memphis, Tennessee and Hope Dooner of Memphis, Tennessee and Elizabeth Dillon (Mike) of Annapolis, Maryland. Sons-- James Dooner (Leslie) of Austin, Texas and Robert Dooner of Ibiza, Spain. Bill's sister-- Helen Archambault (Alfred) of Salem, Connecticut. Grandchildren-- Isabel and Nicholas Azar, Finn Dooner, MacKenzie, Teagan, Tommy, and Billy Dillon Arrangements: Friday November 17--Visitation at St. Peter Catholic Church from 5:00-7:00pm Saturday November 18--Memorial Service at St. Peter Catholic Church at 11:30am Celebration of His Life immediately following. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in William J. Dooner's memory to The Live Golden Foundation (livegolden.org). Live Golden promotes drug and alcohol abstinence to under 21s and was established by Bill and his grandson, Nicholas Azar. Donations may be made by check to: The Live Golden Foundation, 3021 Gardens Way, Memphis, TN 38111.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Nov. 19, 2017
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