Thomas Dolan IV, 98, of Lafayette Hill, a famous environmentalist who identified a new category of mayflies; the former executive director of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, now Wissahickon trails; and the former president of the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Virginia-based Nature Conservancydied on Tuesday December 28 of congestive heart failure in the retirement community of Hill at Whitemarsh.
Mr. Dolan was an expert on the biodiversity of streams, rivers and lakes. American Dolania. He then pioneered the zoning of floodplains to protect watersheds in urban areas, and initiated and oversaw many important local wetland preservation projects.
In the 1950s, he founded Consulting Biologists, Inc.a group that assessed and restored polluted rivers and streams. He became executive director of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association in 1964 and in the 1970s established the nonprofit association Environmental Planning and Information Center to help other environmental activists.
In 2017, Mr. Dolan and his family pledged funds to the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, formerly the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, to establish the Dolan Fund for Innovative Water Research. “When the family got together to talk about what we wanted to do for the Academy, we decided that water would be the enduring problem facing our country and the world,” Mr. Dolan told the era.
Mr. Dolan was treasurer and secretary of the Philadelphia Conservationist Board, now Natural Lands a nonprofit, and helped create and oversee the 1,000 acre John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Tinicum in Delaware County, near the Philadelphia International Airport. He was a supporter of the Appalachian Mountain Club, a distinguished member of the board of directors of Wissahickon Trails, and a member of the board of directors and chairman of the conservation committee of the Philadelphia Zoo.
He won the Zoo Conservation Impact Award 2018the Henry Meigs Environmental Leadership Award 2013 of the Schuylkill Center, and was named in 2000 as one of the Nature Conservancy’s 50 Environmental Heroes.
“He loved science and the outdoors,” said Mr. Dolan’s son Thomas V. “So conservation suited him well.
M. Dolan edited Wildlife conservation through sustainable use, published in 2000, and Richard E. Leakey, the famous Kenyan environmentalist, wrote in the book’s preface: “This volume represents important data on a critical subject. … The editors Herbert Prins, Jan Geu Grootenhuis and Tom Dolan are to be congratulated.
Born April 16, 1923 in Philadelphia, Mr. Dolan grew up in Devon and attended Episcopal Academy and St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH. WWII, and subsequently graduated from Cornell University in 1948 with a BA in Zoology and Conservation.
He told the Chestnut Hill local in 2013 that he chose to work in conservation because “I wanted to do something to make a difference”. He married Margaret MacLeod Knight in 1942, and they had a daughter Margo and sons Thomas V and Brooke. After a divorce, he married Elizabeth Gubb in 1976. His wife and ex-wife died earlier.
After college, Mr. Dolan worked with renowned environmentalist Ruth Patrick at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He then took charge of river studies projects for the DuPont company and joined the Nature Conservancy in the 1980s.
Outside of work, Mr. Dolan was an avid reader, fly fisherman, and bird watcher. He enjoyed spending summers sailing with his family in Jamestown, RI, and he and his second wife purchased land in the wilderness on the West Boulder Preserve near Livingston in the Mt.
He has lived in Chestnut Hill for over 50 years and moved to Lafayette Hill in 2007.
“He had a great influence on me,” said his son Thomas, who accompanied Mr. Dolan on some of his stream investigations. “She was a very calm, generous and positive person. He was a good father. “
In addition to his children, Mr. Dolan is survived by four grandchildren, two great grandchildren and other relatives. A sister died earlier.
Services must be private.
Donations in his name can be made to the Drexel University Academy of Natural Sciences1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103.