Dooley, Barbara Jane Wilson

Held Long Career In Music And Was Active In Her Community

  • Thursday, September 22, 2022
Barbara Jane Wilson Dooley
Barbara Jane Wilson Dooley

Barbara Jane Wilson Dooley, 89, of Cullowhee, NC and Chattanooga, TN, died in Chattanooga on September, 18, 2022.


She was born in Chattanooga on November 28, 1932. She was preceded in death by her parents, Lillie Mae Goodner Wilson and Andrew Jackson Wilson, and her husband of 67 years, James Edward Dooley.


Barbara graduated from Tyner High School and the University of Chattanooga. She completed graduate work in music at North Texas State College (now University of North Texas) and Florida State University. As a lifelong learner she took additional course work in botany, advanced history, and German at Western Carolina University.  Professionally, Barbara was active as a private piano teacher, church organist/pianist, and university accompanist, collaborating with numerous faculty and student performers at WCU.  She also held regional and state offices in several professional music teacher associations.


Barbara met James Dooley when they were classmates at East Brainerd Elementary School. They became sweethearts during high school and married on June 26, 1954. They have two daughters, Gail Dooley (Linda Wideman) of Chattanooga and Claire Clark (Robert) of Greensboro, NC. James and Barbara have three grandsons. Charles Reneau (Sarah Tiedemann) of Portland, OR, and Doug Reneau (Claire) of Beaverton, OR who are both members of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra. Her grandson, CPT Jimmy Clark (Virginia), serves in the US Army in Washington, DC.


Barbara served her community through a number of activities. She volunteered as the Western Carolina Community Chorus accompanist for 50 years. She also served as a church musician, church officer, and historian. In addition, she and her husband James wrote Concord's First Century, a history of Concord Baptist Church (Chattanooga) and contributed chapters to The History of Jackson County, ed. Max Williams (NC) and The History of Cullowhee Baptist Church: Celebrating 190 Years, November 1821-2011, ed. Dianne Yount (NC).


Barbara and James loved traveling and traveled across the United States and to many countries around the world for leisure, for genealogy research, and leading choral concert tours. They loved the mountains of the southeast; they had a mountain cabin in North Georgia while they lived in Georgia and then enjoyed living in the Western North Carolina mountains for over 50 years. She was an avid gardener, reader, bird watcher, genealogist, and wildflower enthusiast.


Barbara is survived by her daughters, grandsons, several nieces and nephews, and several step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, and her siblings: Maurice Wilson, Louise Wilson Norton, A.C. Wilson, Velma Wilson Cowan, and Herman Wilson.


A graveside service will be held Friday, September 30 at 1:30 p.m. at the Chattanooga National Cemetery with Dr. Jeffrey Vickery and Rev. Tonya Vickery officiating.


Memorial donations may be made in memory of Barbara to: Cullowhee Baptist Church (148 Central Drive, Cullowhee, NC 28723); or the Barbara and James Dooley Music Department Awards at (or send checks to WCU Advancement Office, 1 University Drive, 201 Robinson Administration Building, Cullowhee, NC 28723 – checks to WCU and include Barbara and James Dooley Music Department Awards on the memo line).


You may leave condolences for the family at


Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Road.


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