Sunday, March 22, 2009

Win Dolan

In my last post I mentioned a dear elder who turned 100 on the 13th of March, - my anticipation of celebrating his BD on Sun the 15th.

Much to everyone's surprise, he played his last earthly role the 14th, & died at the family BD party that evening, at 100 years, one day!! He'd had some heart problems, & after greeting, naming each of the 26 family & friends present & telling a brief anecdote about each, his heart gave out!

A week later, Sat the 22nd there was a poignant 'celebration of Win's life.' I always appreciate hearing bits that I didn't know about someone, & of course, wish I had before! & while each of us had our own experience with Win, his was a life well lived, & everyone spoke of the same strong character, witty mind, & strength of faith.

Win was born two weeks after my own dad Byrle; & though I met him only 10 years ago, I thought of him as a second father . . . his daughter-in law has told me several times that I meant a lot to him, too; that he always liked my spirit & sparkle! I recall before I began in the choir, his comment that he enjoyed seeing my smile in the congregation; & he loved it when I played harp or 'sign' the songs. Like my dad, he sang tenor, & was in choirs until a few years ago.

When his wife was fading 7 or 8 years ago, Win asked if I'd 'consider' coming to their home & giving her a few back rubs - & of course I did, & of course he paid me! Thelma had suffered (physically & mentally) from a car accident in the mid 60s, which had changed their lives tremendously.
Another friend who acted with Win (even at 90, he was always the first to arrive on set, & had usually memorized ALL his lines before the first rehersals!) She commented that she'd been his 'daughter' in one play, & 'grand daughter' in another, roles she also felt persisted after the plays closed.

After Thelma died, he invited someone without a season ticket to join him at a chamber concert on Campus, & I took him up on the offer. Win served on the college board (had been an interim pres. a couple of times), & continued attend board meetings 'emeritis' - having participated in a 'ferverent' discussion a few weeks ago!

At the cellebration the college president, Dr Hallie, commented here's a set of u-tube videos - 1 (2 & 3) of his Linfield College commencement speach in 2008. Win, at 99, was the oldest commencment speaker for a US college. This was Linfield's 150th Anniversary, & Win comments that he was one of their 'relics & antiques' (The gentleman to his Right & behind him is Dr Hallie.)
Win got a standing ovation for this speach (remember that actor who memorized all his lines before rehersals began :) & several folks told me it was one of the best they'd ever heard! He catelogues some of the changes he'd seen in his 99 years - including learning 'basic' computer programing, & - oh, just watch them!

From his poem written after watching the first footage of the war in Iraq: 'God help us to see that there are no 'we' & 'they' - but only one world for all of us!'
. . .

& the finale of Dr. Win Dolan's speach: "Just for the improvement of your life, look or listen for something beautiful every day, perhaps a flowering tree or the sound of a meadowlark, let it sink in for a moment before you go on."

Wherever you are, Win, I know it is beautiful!

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