Noted Vero Beach Volunteer
Dies in Auto Accident
One of Vero Beach's most active volunteers died yesterday morning as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident near Orlando, on Friday morning. Rachel H. Dooley, widely known to this community as an educator, artist, and friend, was active in a wide variety of organizations throughout the region. She was a regular participant in the St. Helen's parish, where she worked with numerous volunteer groups and choirs, including the Spanish choir. She has been active in the Our Father's Table soup kitchen (Gifford), and was involved with the arts, from crafts exhibitions at the Vero Arts Center, to support for local theatre productions. In addition to all of this, Rachel found time to teach English to Spanish-speaking immigrants and migrant workers at her own home in Vero. She belonged to the American Association of University Women and to the DAR.
A talented artist, she had her works in various media exhibited around Vero Beach, at the Wayside Gallery in Arlington Heights, IL, and at the Biennal in Sao Paolo, Brazil. In recent years she had begun writing inspirational poetry as well as stories about her experiences around the world.
Born in 1924, on a farm in upstate New York, Rachel Dooley worked her way through college doing wartime work, to earn a BA in Education with a minor in Art at Geneseo State College in New York. She left home to work as a schoolteacher in Hawaii. From there, she went to Panama, where she met and married husband Maurice, then a steamship company official from Liverpool, England, working in the Canal Zone.
The two returned to the United States, where they lived for a time in New York, and in North Carolina, having two sons along the way, and somewhat later, a daughter. Maurice's job in international trade took the family around the United States and overseas, to England, Brazil and Belgium. During all of this time, Rachel braved the conditions of foreign territory for her family, and set up innumerable art clubs, craft centers and community response centers along the way. She also gathered a fistful of arts awards and accolades.
In 1987, when the children were all graduated from college and on their way in the world, Rachel and Maurice moved to Vero to get away from the harsh climate of the North. Here, she quickly set up an enormous network of contacts throughout the entire community, and began an unceasing commitment to volunteerism which lasted until her final days.
A lifelong educator, Rachel taught preschool and elementary school as well as adult English as a second language, in Hawaii, New York, North Carolina, Chicago, Cleveland, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Panama, England and Brazil. Her innovative techniques made her a welcome visitor in Vero Beach classrooms, where her "story board" system earned the admiration of all.
Rachel was killed in an automobile accident at a toll booth outside of Orlando, where another car hit her car from behind. She had been asleep, and never woke up. Her husband, sitting right beside her, emerged unhurt. Rachel was on her way to the airport, where she was going to Hawaii for her annual "vacation," helping her sister, Phyllis Kunimura, teach primary school children at a school that Phyllis had established.
Rachel is survived by her husband, Maurice; two sons, Brendan and Brian, one a professor in Germany and the other a writer in New Zealand; and a daughter, Michelle, who has recently provided the only grandchild, Theodore, and has a career in public relations.