Barbara and Vincent Dooley Fund
Vincent “Vince” Joseph Dooley was born in Mobile, Alabama, on September 4, 1932, the son of William and Nellie Dooley. Vince attended Mobile’s McGill Catholic High School, excelling in basketball and football, and went on to play football for legendary coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan at Auburn University. Barbara Anne Meshad was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 8, 1939. She and Vince Dooley married on March 19, 1960. They have four children: Deanna, Daniel, Denise, and Derek.
After two years in the Marine Corps, Vince returned to Auburn, earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Management in 1954 and a master’s degree in History in 1963. He also began working for Coach Jordan. In December 1963, he was hired as the head football coach at the University of Georgia at age 31. Mrs. Dooley graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor’s in Education in Speech Therapy and Mental Retardation. She also earned a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling.
Dooley coached for 25 seasons at UGA, retiring in 1988 with a record of 201 wins, 77 losses, and 10 ties. He won six Southeastern Conference Championships and played in twenty bowl games, with only one losing season (1977). In 1980, he won the National Championship, beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Coach Dooley also served as UGA athletics director from 1979 to 2003. UGA teams won twenty-three national championships during his tenure as Athletic Director. He was recognized as NCAA Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1982, was SEC Coach of the Year seven times, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. He is also a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Coach Dooley is also a master gardener, developing a sturdy hydrangea that can withstand late spring freezes, and the UGA Department of Horticulture named a rose after him. Dooley is also an avid student of history. He is a member of the Civil War Round Table, the Civil War Trust, and has donated all of his extensive papers to the Georgia Historical Society.
Mrs. Dooley has been active in a number of civic and philanthropic endeavors over the course of her career, including the Winship Cancer Center, the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia, St. Mary’s Hospital, the National Football Association Hall of Fame, the Center for Disease Control Foundation Board, the United Way, the Paralympics, and many others. She has received numerous awards and honors for her charitable work. In addition, she has hosted a popular morning radio talk show since 1994.
Mrs. Dooley has written two books, Put Me in Coach: Confessions of a Football Wife (1992), and Fourth and Inches: How to Win When Cancer is the Opponent (2015). Coach Dooley has written a number of books on football, leadership, history, and horticulture, including Dooley: My 40 Years at Georgia (2005); In Dooley’s Garden: A Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach (2008); History and Reminiscences of the University of Georgia (2011); and Vince Dooley and Samuel Norton Thomas, eds., The Legion’s Fighting Bulldog (2017).
Coach Dooley has served on the GHS Board of Curators since 2007, and from 2016–2018 he was Board Chairman. He was named a Georgia Trustee by GHS and the Office of the Governor in 2011.
The Barbara and Vincent Dooley Fund at the Georgia Historical Society was established in 2016, ensuring that their commitment to Georgia history will continue in perpetuity.