Georgia great Vince Dooley buried in Athens

ATHENS — UGA legend Vince Dooley was laid to rest Thursday.

A private funeral for the Georgia Bulldogs’ Hall of Fame coach and athletic director was held late Thursday morning at the Catholic Center at the university. That’s right across Lumpkin Street from the expansive South Campus athletic complex that bears his name. A statue of Dooley being lifted onto the shoulders of his players during the national championship football season of 1980 also stands a block away.

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Dooley died Oct. 28 surrounded by family at home. He was 90.

Dooley was interred Thursday at Oconee Hill Cemetery, which sits right across East Campus Road from Sanford Stadium. His burial, attended by dozens of family members, close friends and former players, was dramatically highlighted by a flyover of three U.S. Air Force jets. Dooley was a U.S. Marine before starting his coaching career at Auburn.

The homages will continue Saturday when the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs play host to No. 1 Tennessee at Sanford Stadium. There will be a moment of silence before the 3:30 p.m. kickoff, followed by a video tribute on the Jumbotron. Special markings are being painted on Dooley Field, which was named in the coach’s honor in 2019. A special patch honoring Dooley’s memory has been sewn on Georgia’s uniforms and will be worn the rest of the season.

It has been a tough couple of weeks for the Bulldog Nation. The Bulldogs already are wearing a black No. 62 helmet decal honoring Charley Trippi’s memory. Trippi, considered UGA’s greatest athlete of all time, passed away at the age of 100 on Oct. 19.

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On Thursday, the Bulldogs also learned about the death of longtime Athens resident Ernie Battinelli. Battinelli has been providing catering services to the UGA Athletic Association for more than two decades.

Dooley is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, as well as the Georgia and Alabama Sports Halls of Fame. He is Georgia’s football coach with the most victories (201), six SEC titles and the 1980 national championship in his 25 years leading the Bulldogs (1964-88). He was also the recipient of numerous awards for his service as director of athletics over a 25-year tenure (1979-2004).

Dooley is survived by his wife of 62 years, the former Barbara Meshad. They have four children: Deanna Dooley Rogers (Destry), Vincent Daniel Dooley (Suzanne), Denise Dooley Mitchell (Jay), and Derek Vincent Dooley (Allison).

The Dooleys have 11 grandchildren: Patrick (Lauren), Catherine and Christopher Cook; Michael (Maggie) and Matthew Dooley; Ty, Joe and Cal Mitchell; and John Taylor, Peyton and Julianna Dooley; and four great-grandchildren: Murphy, Miles and Lane Cook, and Jack Vincent Dooley.

Pallbearers were Patrick Cook, Christopher Cook, Michael Dooley, Matthew Dooley, Ty Mitchell, Joe Mitchell, Cal Mitchell, John Taylor Dooley and Peyton Dooley, according to Bernstein Funeral Home, which handled the proceedings.

In lieu of flowers, the Dooleys asked that memorial contributions be made to the following entities: American Battlefield Trust, 1156 15th St., NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005; The Catholic Center at the University of Georgia, 1344 S. Lumpkin St., Athens, GA 30605; Champions Community Foundation, 2850 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek, GA 30022; Georgia Historical Society Vincent J. Dooley Distinguished Fellows Program, One Baltimore Place NW, Suite G300, Atlanta, GA 30308.