Mary T Dooley


Dr. Mary T. Dooley, professor emerita of geography at Minnesota State University Mankato, passed away on Saturday, December 8 from Alzheimer's disease in hospice care at Oak Terrace Assisted Living of North Mankato at the age of 94.

Dooley was born on November 22, 1924 in Armada, Michigan. She received a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, a Master's degree from Northwestern University and she was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in geography from Michigan State University.

Dooley began teaching at Mankato in 1966. Her research and teaching focused on understanding historical land use. She taught cartography and throughout her career created countless maps documenting socio-economic, demographic and land-use change. She was acting dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences when she retired in 1990.

In 2013, Dooley made a sizable donation to the Geography Department at Mankato with 25 percent dedicated to developing collections at the University Map Library. To honor her long tradition of documenting change on maps, the library was re-named in her honor as the "Dr. Mary T. Dooley Map Library" in ceremonies on January 18, 2013.

The knowledge Dooley gained from her research helped her in later years as she wrote her own family's history: "The Andrews Bailiwick: A Geographic Study of Migration to and Settlement of Northern Macomb County, MI from 1805-1810" (2007) and "Growing up on Anne's Farm" (2012), both published by Minnesota Heritage Publishing. She was working on a third book about her ancestor's missionary journey to Hawaii in the 1800s based on letters, journals, maps and artifacts she rescued from her family's farmhouse attic in Armada, MI and donated to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, HI.

Mary is survived by her son, Gary Dooley, an electrical engineer, and his partner Shirley Molinari (Santa Rosa, CA) and grandson Paul Dooley (Ann Arbor, MI); her son, Stephen Dooley and his wife Paula Dooley, winemakers, and her grandchildren, Liam and Clare (Santa Rosa, CA); her daughter, Kristin Dooley, an executive director of a non-profit, and her husband Alan Dale (Minneapolis, MN), her grandchildren Terri (Litchfield, MN) and Jackie (Minneapolis, MN), and her great-grandchildren, Alexis and Blake (St. Cloud, MN); and by her brother, John (Jack) A. True and his wife Rosalie True (Stillwater, MN).

Mary chose to donate her body to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for use in training students, thus continuing her dedication to education beyond the end of her life.

A casual memorial service is scheduled for Thursday, January 10th from 10 am to noon at the Dr. Mary T. Dooley Map Library located inside Memorial Library on the Minnesota State University Mankato campus, 601 Maywood Avenue in Mankato. Historical society friends, wine friends, mystery friends, department and university friends and family members are invited to share stories and celebrate Dooley's life. Coffee and morning snacks will be served.

Dooley's life was featured in a "Life Remembered" article in the Mankato Free Press published on December 12, 2018 (

Memorials and donations may be made to the Dr. Mary T. Dooley Geography Scholarship, MSU Mankato, 126 Alumni Foundation Center, Mankato, MN 56001. You can donate online by visiting her giving page at
Published on January 6, 2019
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