Jack Doran takes pride in Irish heritage

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Jack Doran’s green eyes are always smiling. He attributes that to “faith in God, faith in family and faith in friends.” It’s his motto and lifestyle.

Born 77 years ago as John Joseph Kennedy Doran to Bill and Rose Mary Kennedy Doran, the former Youngstowner graduated from South High School in 1953. “We’re having the 60th reunion this year,” the Warren resident said.

He was a member of the 50th graduating class in 1958 at what is now Youngstown State University with a degree in merchandising and accounting. He turned that education into a long, successful career in retail.

Today, Doran will begin his St. Patrick’s Day observance by attending Mass at St. Patrick Church, 1420 Oak Hill Ave., Youngstown, then a church dinner in honor of the patron saint. He exemplifies the ethnic fabric of the Valley with his commitment to church and community.

He serves as usher coordinator at the church, which counts his grandparents, Daniel Joseph and Catherine Kane Kennedy, among those who helped build the church. In the centennial book, his grandmother is in a photo from the 1930s that pictures members on the church steps. Doran serves as archivist at the church, where he has belonged since birth. He also gives tours of the historic, 102-year-old church, then distributes bookmarks with the patron saint and an Irish blessing.

For St. Patrick’s Day, he will be dressed in a green sports jacket he bought in the 1950s at the former McKelvey’s department store, white trousers embroidered with green shamrocks he got at the former Hartzell’s Rose and Sons men’s store and an Irish-theme tie given to him by a friend.

To add a “wee bit of the Irish,” he colors his white hair and beard a bright green.

“I’m Irish, I like to have a wee one,” Doran admitted, adding he doesn’t overdo it. “I like a bit of Jameson now and then ... and Guinness,” he said. It’s the company that’s the biggest part of the day for him. He makes it an early night.

“I inherited my Irish heritage from my family. We are a caring and independent people,” he said. “I carry my Irish heritage as part of my being ... it’s the way I live.”

Doran wears his heart on his lapel as well ... a pin with Irish and American flags ... and a well-worn ring on his finger that notes “love, trust and support.” The ring was a church promotion about a decade ago.

Though his great-grandfather, Michael Cornelius Kennedy, hailed from County Mayo in Ireland then came to America, Doran never has visited the Emerald Isle. It’s not for lack of wanting to do so; it just didn’t work out.

Doran has created his own Ireland in America. Though he’s cut back, his home contains Irish collectibles and memorabilia. Doran, who never married, lives with M.K. (Murphy Kane), a mixed-breed rescue dog.

“I love life and people,” he said. His deep Catholic faith is a legacy of his grandmother, the only one ever named “woman of the year” at St. Patrick Church. “She was very active,” he said.

Doran logged some 52 years in retail, retiring 12 years ago. In 1950, at age 15, he started working at McKelvey’s. “I worked two weeks without pay ... until I turned 16,” he said. As his career progressed, he was a buyer of sportswear, furs and children’s clothes. He became merchandise manager with five buyers reporting to him. He oversaw the opening of five McKelvey Loft stores. A co-worker, Ray Brumert, remains a friend.

After 19 years with McKelvey’s, Doran went to Hartzell’s Rose and Sons in the early 1970s then worked at Scoop Inc. in Pittsburgh, a trendy store for young women. He finished his retail career at J.C. Penney, putting in 17 years at Southern Park and Eastwood mall stores. “I enjoyed my job and worked with fine people,” he said.

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