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Tom's incredible broadcast career spanned over 40 years, but it was after an encounter with Christian literary agent and author Wes Yoder in 1978, that Tom had a life transforming encounter with Christ, which led to the origins in 1989 of the daily radio ministry of discipleship and encouragement we know as "The Journey."
In 1996, the same year Tom was ordained a minister of the Gospel, WECC AM1190 joined a group of many stations across the country as an affiliate of The Journey.
Tom’s program had just been dropped by a powerful FM station in Jacksonville when it switched formats, but when we called MasterMedia Ministries about airing The Journey on WECC, Tom and his staff enthusiastically embraced us as if our 2000 watt AM daytime-only radio station was no different than a big 24 hour FM station . . . it was the start of a friendship and unity in ministry that would grow and strengthen to this day.
God imparted many gifts to Tom, and he used them faithfully and effectively to honor the Lord and encourage others in God’s Word. Beyond The Journey broadcast,
Tom would develop and produce powerful multimedia presentations like “America’s Lost Dream” recalling our nation’s true history and Godly heritage; and “Noah’s Ark,” an incredible presentation of the epic Biblical story.
His rich oratorical gift has been featured in many specials, including Cosmic Christmas, the One Year Audio Bible, and as the official voice of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
While Tom Dooley ministered over the airwaves and at large churches and other venues around the country, he and Melanie always made us feel very close and personal in our relationship.
It was soon after the presentation of America’s Lost Dream in Kingsland in 1999, (when Vickie & I met Tom in person for the first time) that he and Melanie invited us to join them on a trip to the Holy Land! It coincided with our 20th wedding anniversary and was a blessing beyond words!
Tom baptized Vickie & I in the Jordan River near the Sea of Galilee ~ With Tom & Melanie at the site of the Sermon on the Mount
Tom Dooley blessed our ministry at The Lighthouse in so many ways, visiting for special occasions and visits, including his joining us to bless and dedicate our new 500’ tower that nearly doubled the power of The Lighthouse 89.3, on the 20th Anniversary of WECC in 2005.
And sometimes visiting just for fun and fellowship with his WECC family!
Tom even helped our youth ministry as the tongue-in-cheek official voice of “FNR News,” a fun feature on the old Friday Night Rock radio show on WECC!
Tom & Melanie Dooley loved each other very dearly
. . . and Tom expressed his love for The Lighthouse family every time we talked, including our last opportunity August when we joined with many others to love and bless him for his many years of ministry and encouragement to all of us.
Melanie called Vickie Monday Nov 8th to say that without intervention from God, Jesus was calling Tom home from the journey within hours or days. Within two days we received news that Tom had completed the race.
It was difficult to see Tom in his last condition, but we know he would say today, “if you could see me now!” Tom was always a pillar of enthusiasm for life, with sayings like “the futures so bright you gotta wear shades”, and his joy and generosity compelled by the love of God, was truly contagious and inspired us to imitate him, which we will continue to do!
While we will sadly miss Tom, our sorrow is not as the world mourns; rather with the sure hope that we will see Tom again knowing that being absent from this body he is present with the Lord!
Vickie & I joined with many others in Irving November 20, 2010 to remember and celebrate the life and ministry of our friend Tom Dooley. There are a few pics on The Lighthouse facebook page, www.facebook.com/TheLighthouseFM. Thank you for keeping Melanie, their children, and grandchildren, in your heart and prayers.
Paul & Vickie Hafer
The Lighthouse Ministry Team
A Little about Tom's Life:
What a journey! From a neglected childhood spent in bars and strip clubs to a man with a happy marriage, loving family, and fulfilled Christian walk, few people fully epitomize a life so completely transformed more than our husband, Dad, Pappy, brother, uncle, and friend.
“Tom” Dooley was born George Patrick Dooley, Jr. January 18, 1947 in Chicago, IL to George and Rebecca Dooley, and he had an older sister, Patricia. Tom’s father ran a strip club. It was the destination for all of the family’s social events including Tom’s christening. Tom’s father was physically abusive to his wife and family, and when Tom’s mother finally fled to Cairo, IL, with at least one tooth knocked out, she opened her own strip club. Tom was frequently sent to live with other families, some related and some not. But when he was home, he was often left to fend for himself in the clubs, behind the bar, surrounded by topless women and drunks.
By his early teen years, he had a reputation for being a trouble maker. At the ripe old age of 12, the FBI was looking for him for check fraud, and he had been arrested for stealing cars. But, he had already chosen the perfect career – radio – and at 14, he dropped out of high school, went to radio school, and got his first radio job in Dyersburg, TN. After all, he would soon have his own family to care for. Tom married his first wife when they were both 16. At 17, Tom’s first daughter, Dana Lynn, was born. Four years later, a second child, Dione, was stillborn. Tom was divorced shortly after, but he was soon married and quickly divorced yet again.
During his late teens, Tom was already a top DJ in Louisville, KY. He was the leader of his own band, Tom Dooley and the Lovelights, with a regional hit, and he was living the life of a rock star – sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. And, unknown to him for 25 years, his second daughter, Lesley, was born when he was 21.
Tom’s radio career required him to live in many different cities, and by 1973 he was at WFIL in Philadelphia. It was there that he met Melanie, the love of his life, a young and seemingly innocent former Catholic school girl who worked part-time at promotional events for the radio station. They had a whirlwind courtship at R&B nightclubs and rock concerts. And, by the end of the year and much to the dismay of Melanie’s widowed mother, Tom and Melanie were married. They had their first baby girl, Kristin, later that year. In 1976, they were back in Louisville where Tom’s only son, Joshua, was born. But by 1978, God quietly directed them back to Philadelphia. This is where Tom’s baby girl, Elizabeth, was born.
It was in Lancaster, PA, outside of Philadelphia, where Tom and Melanie were invited to Christmas Eve dinner with their friend Wes Yoder’s Mennonite parents. The family was loving, gentle, and welcoming, and the evening was spent singing and fellowshipping. It was the first time they had witnessed Christianity in action without being preached to about the Four Spiritual Laws. During the car ride home from the Yoders’ that evening, Tom and Melanie prayed to receive Christ into their lives.
But, becoming a Christian did not change Tom overnight. Although he tried to be the Christian man he wanted to be, he was a product of his childhood, and it was difficult to balance his new Christian walk with the only world he’d ever known.
After their conversion, Tom went to a Christian bookstore to buy a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. The owners of the bookstore and soon to become lifelong friends, Ron and Cay Evans, invited Tom and Melanie to church where they became active members. Tom sought out other men that modeled a Godly life, and he also searched for ministries with whom he could work and learn from. He was the voice of several Billy Graham TV crusades and narrated a couple of Dr. Graham’s audio books.
In 1986, Tom’s sister, Patricia, needed a kidney donor. Their relationship was strained, yet she reluctantly asked Melanie to approach Tom about being a donor. He agreed without hesitation, as one of his marked characteristics was his generosity to others. This was the first of many things that triggered the transformation of his character. Tom was now faced with his sister’s and his own mortality.
At home, Tom and Melanie’s marriage was on the rocks, and Melanie threatened to leave if they didn’t get help from marriage counseling. They found a sweet and gentle counselor in Floyd Sharp. Tom was ready to accept counsel, and he worked harder than he ever had to acknowledge and correct the mistakes he’d made. Tom learned to apologize. And more than that, he consciously changed his behavior. He no longer paid only lip service. He was becoming a new man. His relationships with his wife and family began to change. Within a year, the marriage was unrecognizable from the previous year, and they were on the path to renewal.
In the course of this transformation, he devoured books that would encourage and guide him to be the man he wanted to be. While Tom and Melanie would lie in bed at night, he would read passages aloud to her that he found inspirational. This is where the kernel of an idea began for a Christian radio show. His entire career until that point had been in Top 40 radio. As he grew in his walk with Christ, he grew in his desire to serve God with the talent with which he had been blessed. In 1989, Tom began the radio show, “The Journey with Tom Dooley”. It was a ministry of discipleship and encouragement using Christian literature with Christian music. God gave Tom this gift to allow him to use his talent to serve the Lord and others, and as a result, so many other people’s lives were also transformed by the words that he read and the music that was played.
More than anything, Tom loved and was interested in people. He longed to see the change in others’ lives that he had experienced in his own. Tom was blessed with many close, intimate friends. He cared about people and invested himself in his family and friends. Tom was a confidante and counselor to many.
Sadly for his beloved wife, family, and friends, Tom was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer in March of 2010. On November 9, 2010, Tom passed away peacefully in the presence of his adored wife, Melanie, and son, Josh. He had just been prepared for bed. Josh was singing to him while Melanie cuddled with him. Tom drew a final breath and gently slipped away.
He never once complained about his diagnosis, and throughout several different treatments he remained positive and peaceful. His faith in God remained steadfast and never once faltered; and his inspiration and insight will be greatly missed.
His generosity continued even after death as Tom chose to donate his body for medical research. We hope one day that a cure for glioblastoma multiforme is found.
A celebration of Tom’s life was held on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 2:00pm at Irving Bible Church in Irving, TX.
"The Journey Rolls On"...
Tom's wife Melanie is continuing the ministry of Mastermedia and The Journey, providing archives for broadcast to stations as well as programming on JesusFM.com.
We hope you'll continue to join us each weekday morning 8 to 10 AM and Saturday 7 to 9 AM as we continue to air the best of The Journey with Tom Dooley.