Kenneth R Dooley

Inducted: 2018
Born: 1932

Kenneth R. Dooley was born in Providence in 1931. He graduated from LaSalle Academy and Providence College (Class of 1959). He spent a career in publishing and film production with the media giant Prentice Hall in New Jersey as an executive vice president of the Bureau of Business Practice (1960-1977). He oversaw 600 employees and issued 125 newsletters about personnel relations, as well as books and films. As part of that assignment, he founded Madison Productions where he authored several award winning documentaries in the mid-1980s about the inspiring lives of sports legends.
When Ken co-founded his own publishing company, Institute for Management in Old Saybrook, Connecticut in 1977, he expanded an earlier documentary into a biography, MBA: Management by Auerbach, that sold more than 100,000 copies in 1992. He has also served as a senior editor for Progressive Publications of Malvern, Pennsylvania, a leading publisher of business newsletters.
When Ken “retired” to Rhode Island in 2010, he reunited with his siblings and his hometown roots, resulting in two important works among thirty-seven others. Dooley recalled a ditty his grandmother used to sing when he was a child,”Poor Johnny Gordon,” an ode to the last man executed by the state of Rhode Island in 1845. Gordon, an Irish-Catholic immigrant, was accused of the murder of local industrialist, Amasa Sprague, in 1843. The trial had no pretext of fairness, and Gordon was hanged. As a partial consequence of this injustice, Rhode Island outlawed the death penalty. In 2011, Ken produced The Murder Trial of John Gordon, a searing indictment of a prejudiced court and culture that influenced state representative Peter Martin to introduce a bill into the General Assembly to pardon Gordon. Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the exoneration later that year.
The business executive turned humanities scholar then brought his attention to another injustice. Ken grew up in the Edgewood section of Cranston around the time of World War II when an older friend in the neighborhood, Robert “Bob” Thorpe, joined the 39th Fighting Squadron of the Fifth Air Force. The twenty-year-old Thorpe was shot down on May 28, 1944 over New Guinea. Soon the Air Force declared him missing in action.
In finding Thorpe, Ken furrowed through the thickets of the Freedom of Information Act and discovered a 1300-page dossier about his friend’s death. Second Lieutenant Thorpe had been immediately captured by Japanese forces, interrogated, tortured, and beheaded. The cruel commander who presided over this atrocity was arrested after the conflict and tried at the Yokohama War Crimes Court. The officer pleaded guilty while praising the courage of young Bob Thorpe. He was hanged exactly five years to the day after the brutal murder of the Cranston airman. No one, including the family, knew about this turn of events until Ken’s investigation.
Thanks to him and Peter Martin, Robert Thorpe was awarded the state’s highest military honor in 2013, including a stone marker at the Rhode Island Veterans’ Cemetery. The whole story appears in Dooley’s 2015 volume, Relentless Pursuit. A flagstone Ken installed at the local Irish Famine Memorial dedicated to John Gordon and, by implication, to Bob Thorpe tells all. It reads, “Forgiveness is the Ultimate Revenge.”
Dr. D .Scott Molloy, Jr. 2009 Inductee

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