Kermit Dooley is a name well known in Gardendale.
Currently serving his second term as president of the Gardendale Historical Society, Dooley is a charter member of the organization.
He has lived in Gardendale for 70 of his 72 years; his family moved to the city in about 1942 from East Lake. Dooley still lives on “the old homeplace” that his parents bought. His brother also lives on a section of the property.
Dooley and his wife Joyce will celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary on Aug. 19. Known as “Poppy” and “Nanny” to their eight grandchildren, the Dooleys have two sons: James Troy Dooley and Shaun Henry Dooley.
“We have contact with our family often,” Dooley said. “They all know our door is open.” Every Thursday, most of the family members make their way to Dooley’s house for a home-cooked meal prepared by Joyce.
Dooley said his family has always been closely connected to Gardendale. He said his father, Harley Troy Dooley, was a charter member of Gardendale’s first fire department, as well as a reserve police officer.
Harley Troy Dooley, a welder, also built many of the first structures in Gardendale, including the jail, which is now in use in Trafford.
Kermit Dooley himself has always been involved in his city. Like his father, Dooley volunteered for a while for the fire department and served as a reserve police officer.
He is also second vice president of the Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance, which is another connection to his love of history.
“That’s something I enjoy because it involves history,” Dooley said. “In order to appreciate where you are today, you need to know where you came from and the hardships our ancestors went through.”
Dooley has not always had a love of history.
“I didn’t enjoy it at all when I was a kid in school,” he said.
Rather, it came later when he started researching his family history.
“Once you start genealogy, you’re going to get involved in history,” he said. “I just enjoy seeing how things were in the early years and the hardships they went through for us to have what we have today.”
Dooley also likes the community that is created by people who love history.
“History puts you in contact with people all over the country who have the same interests,” he said.