Celebrating 80 years of Bill Dolan
April 7, 2003
Bill Dolan conferred with friends and family after he gave a thank-you speech at his 80th birthday party Sunday night. But he hadn’t mentioned his wife, Dorothy, so he stepped back to the podium.
“If I, by any chance, have forgotten anybody, such as my wife or anybody else,” he smiled while the crowd of old friends laughed, “you can join the long list of complainants I’ve accumulated over the years.”
Dolan, a native Nevadan, veteran of the D-Day invasion, and 36-year employee of the Nevada Appeal, sat by the door in a red sports coat, greeting well wishers as they arrived at the Brewery Arts Center.
“My wife wrote something nasty in your card,” said a friend with a wink as he walked in.
“Good, I need some inspiration,” Dolan said, smiling back, sipping a can of Bud Light.
The Brewery was an appropriate place for the party, he explained, because he worked right downstairs for years when the building was the office of the Appeal.
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Dolan has written the “Past Pages” for the Appeal since he was a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1947. He says he’ll keep doing it “as long as they let me.”
Nevada State Historian Guy Rocha had just flown in from Austria, but said he couldn’t miss Dolan’s party. He described seeing Dolan early on Mondays flipping through the microfiche at the State Library to get fodder for “Past Pages.”
Dolan never called in sick during his almost 40 years as a regular employee, but he won’t take credit for that record.
“The structure was such that there was nobody else there to make it run, if I was gone,” he said.
The Appeal’s current editor, Barry Smith, described Dolan as “an Army of one” in both his work at the Appeal and actions at D-Day.
During the invasion, Dolan used radio skills in what has been called “the greatest secret hoax in military history” to trick the Germans into thinking the invasion would be at Calais, not Normandy. Dolan’s unit was awarded a Certificate of Merit by Gen. Omar Bradley for helping save 100,000 lives. Dolan showed off the green patch with a gold wreath Sunday.
Dolan has created a link between the past and the future for readers of the Appeal, Smith said.
“But Bill Dolan not only provides that connection, he is that connection,” he said.
During the party, live music was provided by Dot and Bill Kelley, Chris Bayer, Laura Bright, Rich Taylor, Ron Machado and others.
Mayor Ray Masayko stood up to wish Dolan all the best for his 80th. He said he respects Dolan’s vigor, interest and love for friends and the community.
“Carson City is absolutely blessed to have somebody of Bill Dolan’s energy. He’s a great guy — one of the unique people of Carson City.”
And Dolan is glad to be here.
“We’ve all been involved in a great partnership, making this the greatest capital city in the United States,” he said.