Michael Dooley, 71, of Liverpool, passed away unexpectedly at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He was very youthful, fun-loving, creative, energetic, and very active in all things he loved up until the final days of his life. Born in Mattydale, Michael grew up in Camillus and was a 1970 graduate of West Genesee High School. He was an accomplished and self-taught musician, singer, and artist. While at West Genesee, Michael’s piano playing, without the benefit of reading music, amazed his friends and family for years. His paintings were proudly displayed by his family at his childhood home for over 40 years.
During high school, Michael pursued his love of singing with Sing Out Syracuse where he developed life-long friendships. Upon graduating from high school, he embarked on a cross-country tour with Up With People. Shortly after his return, Michael began a career as a dedicated teaching assistant for the Syracuse City School District, teaching students with special needs. He was genuinely appreciative and moved by this opportunity to serve and later moved on to a variety of client-serving positions at ARC of Onondaga. Michael succeeded in these endeavors with no specialized training. He had his gentle demeanor, ability to make everyone feel good about themselves, and his caring, nurturing, and supportive personality towards every child or adult he worked with. Michael loved people. He searched for and found the good in everyone.
The next step in Michael’s life led him to a long-time career in retail. He served at JCPenney in Destiny USA Mall for over 20 years. Michael treated his customers like friends and his co-workers like family. He loved everything about his time there, even the 2 a.m. start times on Black Friday! Michael retired from JCPenney in 2016, and after just a few weeks, joined the team at Macy’s. Most recently, for the last three and a half years, he found true passion and purpose working at the Liverpool Art Center. Under their guidance, Michael took his creativity and art skills to a new level that shocked everyone, including himself. He developed yet another “family” with the new friendships he made there.
In the words of his Liverpool Art Center friends, “Michael Dooley’s art combines color, texture, and design, with a whimsical dreamscape and a child-like sense of wonder. Michael broke rules and made his own way in the arts by focusing on having fun with any medium he explored. His love of paint pours and creating fine details came together to create his most loved whimsical house paintings (his signature style). His brand, Dooley DesignZ, included paintings, miniatures, pour paint vases and his own line of candles. Friday morning weekly art classes have been Michael’s program since 2021. He had a special gift for helping people feel welcome and accepted. He had a contagious smile and loved to cook up shenanigans anywhere he could!”
Michael’s outlook on life was always upbeat and positive. He lived simply and appreciated all aspects of daily life. It seems like Michael never aged. The memories of him will bring smiles and laughs for a very long time, and he’ll be sorely missed by his family and friends.
Michael leaves a wonderful legacy: a life well-lived by joyful service to others. Godspeed, Mike!
Michael was predeceased by his father, Robert in 2013; mother, Joanne in 2016; and sister, Karen Dooley Kowarek in 1995.
Surviving are his brothers, Richard (Grace Xue) of Manlius, Patrick (Mary) of Skaneateles, and Steven of Onondaga Hill, who will remember him fondly. Also surviving are five nieces; three nephews; a growing number of grandnieces and grandnephews; a great group of cousins, with whom Michael had a great time with at a reunion last summer; and a group of amazing friends whom he loved dearly and thought of and treated as his family.
Relatives and friends may call Saturday, February 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Buranich Funeral Home, Inc., 5431 W. Genesee Street, Camillus. A celebration of his amazing life will immediately follow.
Michael will be laid to rest during the spring in Greenlawn Cemetery in Warners next to his mom, dad, and sister.