Obituary for Thomas Nolan Jr.
Thomas E. Nolan Jr. born and raised in Mattapan, MA and 60 year resident of Medfield, MA died on March 7, 2017 at the age of 92.
He was born on November 15, 1924, the son of Thomas E Nolan and Edith M (Chambers) Nolan. His father was the Chief Engineer at the Mystic Power Plant for Boston Edison. He was the brother of the late Edith (Nolan) Draper of Canton, MA and Helen (Nolan) Hymanson of Athol, MA. As a child, his family enjoyed car rides often journeying to the local beaches where he became a strong swimmer and later an accomplished sailor.
He was the grandson of Sarah Jane (Geelin) Chambers and John Isaac (Ike) Chambers, a professional Cricket player and the Groundskeeper of the Longwood Cricket Club, who came from England to fill this position. The Chambers were residents of Needham and his parents met canoeing on the Charles River. He was also the grandson of John H. Nolan and Julia (Hughes) Nolan who emigrated separately from County Galway, Ireland to start a new life in America. They met in Malden married and then later moved to Mattapan
He attended the Solomon Lewenberg School where he was active on the track team, a drum major in the marching band, a clarinet player in the orchestra which is how he got to sit in and play with guest performer, Benny Goodman. A devoted Braves fan, he would take the trolley to their games which he attended for a nickel. He earned his Eagle Scout and would walk from Mattapan to Milton to attend troop meetings. For several summers, he was a swimming instructor at the Boy Scout summer camp program in Plymouth. He built his first ham radio and worked mowing lawns to earn the money to improve his equipment.
After graduating high school, he enrolled in the Co-operative Program at Northeastern University where his athletic talent for running was recognized and earned him a place on the school’s track team. He was only able to attend his first semester before being drafted at the age of 18 into the Army and sent to Burma for the duration of World War II. His skills as a radio operator were put to use there and he was made a Sargent in the Signal Choir. Before shipping out, he attended a USO dance and that is where he met his wife of 62 years, Dorothy Dalton Kirschner of Astoria, NY.
When he returned in 1946, he was readmitted to Northeastern under the GI Bill. Tom and Dorothy were married on July 17th, 1948 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Their first child, a daughter, was born while he was a student at Northeastern and attended his graduation when he received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduation, Tom was hired by Westinghouse in New Jersey and there his family grew to three children, 2 daughters and a son. Living in a small apartment, Tom still found space for his ham radio and often the kitchen would become an improvised darkroom in which to develop his beautiful photographs.
His next career move returned him to Mattapan, Massachusetts. As an employee for RCA and later Damien, he developed many inventions that were patented included were improvements in the field of laser and centrifuge technology. The astronauts of Apollo 11 did meet Tom Nolan whose invention measured the distance from their space craft to the moon allowing them to land safely. The lasers he developed also were used to provide the light source by which the now famous photos of the moon were taken and transmitted back to NASA as well as create the topographical maps of the moon during their mission.
In 1957, Tom and Dorothy were able to buy their first house and moved their family of now four to Medfield. Over time, their family grew to six children; 3 boys and 3 girls. Tom and Dorothy were active members of their community. Tom was a member of the Holy Name Society and an usher at St. Edwards Church for 57 years. He started a Boy Scout Troop in Medfield, Pack 200. He was a Little League Coach and umpire. He organized bowling clinics for youth from local towns and recruited the assistance of Celtic star, Sam Jones. He was a member of the Squantum and Massapoag Yacht clubs and enjoyed sailing his Flying Scot, the Tom Swift in all kinds of weather both at sea and on lakes. With the knowledge gained from working on computers when they were main frames and took up entire buildings, he began to build his own computers and later taught computer classes at the Medfield Senior Center. He was a regular blood donor for the American Red Cross. He was a 50 year member of the Medfield Fitness Group and worked with them to sponsor and organize the Medfield Road Race that is now an integral part of the Annual Medfield Day celebration. Over the course of his lifetime, he ran multiple marathons, triathlons and enjoyed 50 mile plus bike rides.
He is survived by his daughter, Claire Forman and her husband Marc of Sharon. His daughter, June Wollitz and husband Raymond of Sparta, New Jersey. His son, Thomas Nolan and his wife Teresa of Franklin. Sons, Charles and Gregory Nolan of Medfield and daughter Sarah Wegiel and husband, Henry of Leominster. He leaves eight grandchildren and two great granddaughters.
His life will be celebrated by services on Friday, March 17, 2017 at the following times. Visiting hour from 8:45 to 9:45 Am at Roberts-Mitchell Funeral Home, Miller St., Medfield. A 10 o’clock service at St. Edward’s Church in Medfield, Burial at 11 at Vine Lake Cemetery, Medfield and a reception for friends and family at the Legion Hall in Medfield starting at 11:45.
Donations in his memory can be made to Dreamfar High School Marathon, Inc. 27 Scotney Rd.
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 or the Medfield Food Pantry.