Alan Dolan loved the outdoors. Whether it was on a bike or behind the lens of a camera or out hiking—and always, always with his wife Lee at his side—Dolan enjoyed the natural world passionately and fully. One of the ways he showed that love and that passion was by focusing much of his prodigious energies protecting the environment and birds in his home county of Stark, Ohio. He served as president of Canton Audubon Society for 30 years, and as regional director for Mississippi Flyway North for National Audubon Society’s board of directors for eight.
“Alan was a fixture in Canton Audubon Society and in Stark County,” says current Canton Audubon Society president Linda Chen. “He was always volunteering, always raising money. But beyond that, he was just a genuinely good person. He was kind, thoughtful, and generous.”
Dolan was irrepressible in his enthusiasm and his ability to make people feel welcome in the conservation movement. When Marnie Urso, policy director for Audubon Great Lakes, first started working for Audubon in Ohio more than15 years ago, she remembers that Dolan went out of his way to make her feel included and heard: “Here I was, a young woman walking into a room full of unfamiliar faces, and Alan made sure that I was felt welcomed. At every Audubon event I have attended over the years, I looked to see if Alan was there and was always glad to see that he was. Alan always showed up, for people and for Audubon.”
Dolan brought that spirit of giving and mentorship to many of his relationships, a quality that has helped others in the Audubon chapter network become involved at the national and board level, even if they were unsure about it at first.
“Alan was responsible for convincing me that I could serve on the national board,” says Bill Heck, currently serving as regional director for the Mississippi Flyway North. “Both he and I had gotten to a place where, having been presidents of our local Audubon chapters, we wanted to take our service to the next level. He convinced me that I should run for a position on the board, and then mentored me as I stepped into that role.”
Chen, who became president of Canton Audubon Society in 2016 after Dolan stepped down, echoed this. She credits her ability to lead Canton Audubon to Dolan’s guidance when she first took on the role. “When I decided that I could take on the role of president for Canton Audubon, Alan was there to guide me along the way.”
Dolan’s commitment to conservation and his unique ability to make everyone feel like they had a place and role in the environmental movement was apparent to those who knew him at Audubon as well. “In his time on the National Audubon Society board of directors, Alan was a joyful and enthusiastic advocate for the Audubon chapter network and for birds,” said Audubon’s Chief Network Officer, David Jeffrey Ringer. “Alan and his wife Lee were always there with a quick smile, a warm handshake, and an encouraging word.”
In addition to his commitments and contributions to Audubon, Dolan supported or served on boards for The Wilderness Center, Friends of Stark Parks, League of American Bicyclists, and Relay for Life. Because of his tireless work oh behalf of Stark County wildlife, the Wildlife Viewing Room at Stark Park's Wildlife Conservation Center was named for him and his wife, Lee. He also was awarded the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award by Stark Parks.
Alan is survived by his wife, Lee. He is also survived by his sister, Gail Wilmot of Ellsworth, Maine and family; and nephews, Chad Wilmot of Ellsworth, Maine, and Ross Wilmot of San Antonio, Florida, and their families.