DR. THOMAS A. DOOLEY
Thomas Anthony Dooley, III was born on January 17, 1927, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Thomas A. Dooley, II and Agnes Dooley. Dooley attended grade school at St. Roch's and Barat Hall and high school at St. Louis University High School. After he graduated in 1944, Dooley attended Notre Dame University for his undergraduate studies. Later, in 1944, he joined the U.S. Navy as a medical corpsman. In July 1946, he received an honorable discharge and enlisted in the Navy Reserves until he was discharged in 1950.
In 1953, Dooley graduated from St.
Louis University Medical School with a Doctor of Medicine Degree. He then
took a medical internship with the U.S. Navy. In 1954 and 1955, he helped
with the "Passage to Freedom" program, which transported refugees
from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. After returning to the U.S. in November
1955, he published a book, Deliver Us From Evil, about his experiences
in Vietnam. In 1956, Dooley resigned from the Navy. From 1956 through
October 1957, he used the money he received from the book sales to go
back to Southeast Asia and establish a hospital in Laos. During his time
there, he wrote another book about his experiences, The Edge of Tomorrow.
He returned to America in late 1957 and started Medical International
Cooperation Organization (MEDICO) to provide person-to-person medical
service and to train villagers of foreign lands to run hospitals and care
for their own people. In 1958, he returned to Laos with his assistants,
Earl Rhine and Dwight Davis,
to establish a hospital in Muong Sing.
Rhine and Davis
worked with Dooley in Muong Sing to establish a hospital and care
for the villagers. On August 21, 1959, Dooley flew from Laos back to the
United States. Rhine, Davis, and twenty-seven Laotian students remained
in Laos to run the hospital. On August 27, 1959, Dooley underwent chest
surgery for malignant melanoma at Memorial Hospital in New York. His three-hour
operation was filmed and televised by the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Before returning to Laos, Dooley did a lecture tour giving forty-eight
speeches in thirty-seven different U.S. cities in forty-one days, in order
to spread more information about his work and raise more money and supplies
to support it. He returned to Laos in December 1959.
Dooley stayed on at Muong Sing after Rhine and Davis returned to the United States in April 1960. Dooley published his third book of experiences in 1960 entitled The Night They Burned the Mountain. After Rhine and Davis left, Dooley continued to help establish and support MEDICO hospitals in various different nations. He also travelled between Laos and America doing speaking engagements in mainland America, Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, and Thailand to raising more money and resources. He helped a new doctor get started at Muong Sing and opened a new hospital in Ban Houei Sai, Laos. In December, Dooley went into the hospital in Hong Kong, and was later sent to the Memorial Hospital in New York because his cancer had spread to his lungs, liver, spleen, heart, and brain. Dooley died on January 18, 1961, the day after his thirty-fourth birthday. His funeral was held January 23, 1961, at the St. Louis Cathedral. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.
After Dooley's death, many of his supporters requested the Roman Catholic Church recognize Dooley as a saint. The Oblate Fathers and Brothers assigned Father Maynard Kegler the task of compiling and presenting research on Dooley to the Sacred Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome. Father Kegler had met Dooley in St. Louis on one of his lecture tours, and they became friends. Kegler started the Dr. Thomas A. Dooley Cause and sent out newsletters to Dooley supporters keeping them up to date on the progress of canonization.
In the early stages of the Cause, a large amount of research was needed to trace Dooley's life, activities, and religious feelings to justify his worthiness of canonization for sainthood. The process required examples of miracles.
The canonization process takes a long time, but Kegler had support from numerous people around the world.
While researching, Kegler discovered
nearly 500 CIA files through the Freedom of Information Act that showed
Dooley had provided the CIA with information on villagers' sentiments
and troop movements around his hospitals in Laos in the 1950s. In the
1950s, the CIA was trusted to protect the free world from communism. Many
of Dooley's followers saw this as Dooley doing his patriotic duty.
In a letter to his mother, Dooley denied his involvement in espionage work while in Muong Sing, Laos.
Although this information caused some people to have negative feelings about the Dooley Cause, Kegler saw this as a way to get the Dooley Cause back into the eyes of the public and to gain support for the Cause.
Despite all the efforts, ultimately the Cause of canonization for sainthood for Dooley failed.
In 1980, Western Historical Manuscript Collection-St. Louis became the offical repository of the late Dr. Tom Dooley's papers. Click Here to see a finding aid for the collection.
Other information on Dooley:
DOOLEY'S CORRESPONDENCE WHILE IN MUONG SING, LAOS
DOOLEY'S FIGHT AGAINST COMMUNISM