Jan Dolan, former Farmington Hills mayor and state lawmaker, dies

Jan Dolan
Jan Dolan (family photo)

In 2011, former state representative and Farmington Hills mayor Jan Dolan, made her first tandem skydiving jump, in honor of her 85th birthday.

Dolan lived life to the fullest, still actively involved in many local organizations until shortly before her death on November 1. She was 89 and succumbed to respiratory failure.

Her son, Gary, said his mother had lived with asthma since childhood and was diagnosed in January with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She had good days and bad days, but “she was still mobile.”

“She was driving a car until her last weeks,” he said.

Gary Dolan described his mother as supportive and loving, but not a coddler. “If you fell down, she would tell you to dust yourself off and move on, which is what she was like. She didn’t expect anything less of us than she did of herself.”

With a degree from the University of Akron in Ohio, Jan worked as a hospital dietitian until her marriage to Walter Dolan. Gary and his brothers Scott, Todd, and Mark were all born in quick succession. (Mark preceded his mother in death.) In a eulogy Jan wrote for herself several years ago, she described her sons as “her pride and joy”:

“With less than five years between them all – she became very much involved with their lives, which included PTA, Sunday school teacher and five years as a Cub Scout den mother. In her later political life, mom used to say that raising four sons and being a den mother for five years trained her well to serve on the Farmington Hills City Council for 14 years with two terms as mayor and later the State Legislature for 8 years.”

Jan Dolan’s post-political career found her involved in many civic and nonprofit groups, including 44 years as a member of the Farmington Garden Club; service with the Botsford Hospital, Botsford Continuing Care Corporation, Area Agency on Aging 1-B, Farmington and Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth and Families, Oakland Community College Foundation, Farmington YMCA, and Longacre House boards of directors; Farmington Hills Beautification Commission and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee, Farmington Rotary Club, Michigan Campaign Finance Network, League of Women Voters, and American Association of University Women.

In May, the City of Farmington Hills honored her with the Nancy Bates Distinguished Public Servant Award.

State Representative Christine Greig, who holds the same seat Dolan did from 1989 to 1996, said the former representative was very generous with her time, particularly when it came to mentoring women in politics.

“Ms. Dolan was a dedicated community advocate who committed her public service to helping those least able to help themselves — children and the elderly,” Greig said in an e-mailed statement. “I admire her compassionate approach to public policy, as she worked to create affordable senior care options and quality public education opportunities.”

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on November 12, at First Presbyterian Church of Farmington, 26165 Farmington Road, Farmington Hills. The family will receive visitors at the church beginning at 1 p.m. that day. Immediately following the service, there will be a reception at the church with light refreshments.

Her family suggests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to one of the following of the many groups that she supported: League of Women Voters, First Presbyterian Church of Farmington, and Farmington and Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth & Families.