William K. Dooley

Born in Hillsboro, Texas, Ken was one of two sons of Earl Leslie Dooley and Grace Richardson Dooley. His father sold stock feed and flour for Bewley Mills of Fort Worth, where his mother also worked as a bookkeeper. The family lived in other cities in Texas, including San Antonio, Houston and Weslaco. Despite contracting polio as an infant, Ken recovered and played sports in school, mainly basketball and track. He also worked for a nursery, and with his father on Saturdays, helping to load feed and flour on 18-wheelers. Meanwhile Ken was developing a love of music, including singing and playing the piano. A fond boyhood memory was of meeting famed singer and film star, Nelson Eddy. After graduating from high school in San Antonio in 1942 he entered Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey on a work scholarship, in which he earned room and board. (He later earned a master's degree at Louisiana Tech.) In World War II Ken desperately wanted to join the U.S. Army but was turned down because of his early paralysis from polio. Selected for the school's famed choir, he toured much of the United States with the group. With the choir he sang about 60 performances in Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He also sang at Carnegie Hall with Leopold Stokowski as conductor, as well as with the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy as conductor. Ken and the choir performed in two movies. Hymn of the Nations featured national anthems of the Allies fused together as a fugue, with music conducted by Toscanini. Christmas 1945 featured music by the combined orchestras of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. Meanwhile he paid tuition by working at a bookstore, a church and in a record store. He also dug flowerbeds for the choir director. After graduating in 1946, Ken performed in the summer outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, in Manteo, North Carolina. Another cast member was Andy Griffith. He was named music director of First Baptist Church of LaGrange, Georgia. On June 29, 1947 he married Priscilla Ann Krahl, a member of the Westminster choir. (They would have three children and six grandchildren). From LaGrange the Dooleys moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where he was minister of music for St. John's Baptist Church. In 1953 he was hired as minister of music for First Baptist Church in Shreveport, where he remained until 1976. He then taught at Centenary College, East Texas Baptist College, Northwestern State University in Natchitoches and LSU-Shreveport. He served as minister of music for Christ Methodist Church for 17 years. Meanwhile, beginning in 1954, Ken performed with Shreveport Symphony and Shreveport Symphony Repertoire Opera Company of which he was a charter member. In the summer of 1958 he and some of the other principals with the opera spent three weeks studying and performing opera in Paris. In 1977 he performed in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Ken retired from church music in 1997. He would continue to sing in the choir in Flower Mound, Texas, at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Priscilla passed away in 2007. In 2008 he married Blanch Mallary, a Westminster classmate. She passed away in 2009.