Charles “Chip” Hooley, Dunrovin’s Board of Directors chair since 2017, appreciates the history and vision of Dunrovin because of his family’s legacy. His grandparents, Rueben “Had” Hadrath and Stella Margaret (Brennan) Hadrath, owned Dunrovin from 1941 to 1962. In fact, Dunrovin’s name comes from Stella. According to Chip, she said, “This is it. We’re going to live here. We’re done rovin’ around.” Had was an accountant by trade but also owned a dairy farm, Maple Island Creamery in Stillwater, and the Maple Island Hunting Club on County Road 15. Chip enjoys happy memories of the great care from his grandparents.
Dunrovin also brings fond memories to Chip although he never lived on the property: “We came up on vacation and for family parties. My folks lived in the [now] River Cabin, my grandparents in the [main] house, and Jack and Joyce Hooley [his uncle and aunt] were in the Saint Francis Cottage.” His family used to call the River Cabin the “pest house” and often slept on the screen porch. They recount waking one night to a scratching sound and “turned to be face to face with a black bear.”
For recreation, the Hadrath family enjoyed the swimming pool, golf course, and tennis court (now the basketball court). The pond was originally made to be a fly fishing pond, but the trout escaped every spring flood. The Hadraths also owned a barn with four horses where the main center is now: “My folks would go on rides in the country, sometimes to Withrow from Dunrovin.” Chip remembers hiking in the woods and playing by the old driveway, which is now a walking path.
Along with Dunrovin’s history, Chip also experienced its ministry. During high school in the early 1970s, he attended retreats with St. Michael’s Church from Stillwater. “Good high school memories,” he laughed. “As young high schoolers, we’d sneak out the windows at night.”
After the Christian Brothers established the retreat center in 1963, the Hadrath family were welcomed guests. Chip’s mother, Nancy (Hadrath) Hooley, celebrated her prom parties at Dunrovin during high school as well as her wedding reception.
Elements of Dunrovin remain similar to the past. “The feel of it is the same as it was decades ago,” Chip stated. “The change is that instead of being a getaway for one large family, the Hadraths, it is open to so many more people.” Being able to give this gift of nature and serenity is an important part of the Hadrath’s history: “The scope of [Dunrovin] is so much deeper and richer than it was before. I think that is exactly what my grandparents had in mind; they wanted it to be enjoyed by a large range of people, and the Christian Brothers were able to do that.” The legacy of Had and Stella Hadrath is “the generosity of the place.”
As our Board Chair, Chip focuses on long-term objectives: “The vision is to create a sustainable goal for Dunrovin so it can continue on in the future and help others along the way.” He finds satisfaction furthering Dunrovin’s mission and working with the other talented board members who bring unique knowledge to the retreat center. Grateful for the generosity of the Hadrath and Hooley families, we agree with Chip that “you feel like you really get away when you come down [Dunrovin’s] hill.”
Read more about the history of Dunrovin here.