Frank DOLMAN

FRANK DOLMAN 1929 ~ 2011. Frank Dolman was a teacher, logger, union local president, cowboy, sawmill manager, education researcher, college administrator, writer, teacher trainer, actor, broadcaster, ultralite pilot, motorcycle rider, husband, father, grandfather, and congenial observer of the human scene. He was born in Nakusp, 1929, second son of Jack and Annie Dolman. He grew up on his parent’s farm, and learned early the duties of a farm boy. And his mother taught him both piano and the basics of cooking. He rode on horseback to school, from the beginning of grade 1 to the end of grade 12. Following a year in senior matric at Trail, he enrolled in second year at the University of British Columbia in 1948. The next three years were truly the greening years for Frank. While majoring in the Sciences, he in fact was growing up. Fortuitously he joined the Varsity Outdoor Club, and he threw himself into its activities – skiing, climbing, hiking, and a wonderful social life, which served to develop his self-confidence and sense of self-worth. He remained in contact with some members until his death six decades later. For one forgettable season he also played American Football with the UBC Thunderbirds. He earned his way through University working as a logger. One summer he and big brother Bob felled the great fir trees on a mountainside above Jarvis Inlet, using a crosscut saw and springboards – probably one of the last sets of fallers to do this before these tools were replaced by the power saw.

Unwisely, he left University before completing his degree, and completely at loose ends, ended up working for one season on the Twin Lakes Dude Ranch, west of Penticton. Through the rest of his life Frank maintained that this was the best job he had ever had – at $60 a month plus room (in the bunkhouse) and board! He worked initially with the hay crew in Olalla, driving a team of horses pulling a hay wagon; later was promoted to wrangler, looking after all the riding horses, and taking the guests out for daily trail rides. The ranch has now been subdivided, and the fairways and greens of the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club now occupy the former horse pasture. His careers began as a trainee for Canadian Forest Products, and for the next 10 years he worked in the forest industries as worker, foreman, superintendent and manager, in the Okanagan and in Quesnel.

During this time, he married Margot Tysoe, a nurse and beautiful Vancouver socialite who cheerfully moved to her “little home in the North” where they happily stayed for the next 15 years. Children soon followed. Stephen was born in 1953, followed by Katherine and Cameron. Eventually the young couple came to realize the cause of all these pregnancies! Danielle was born six years later. When his mill manager job was sold out from under him, he cast about for a new career, and Frank decided to become a teacher at Quesnel High School. This was the beginning of his long, varied and successful career in education. The next ten years were busy with child raising, career development and community participation. Margot was perennial president of the Bouchie Lake Saddle Cub and Frank had a few wild and crazy years as Secretary of the Bouchie Lake Rodeo Club. Their home and little farm on the lakeshore, was continually filled with friends; 4H animals, and horses. Early in his teaching career, Frank and family moved to Vancouver for a year so he could earn his permanent teacher’s certificate at U.B.C. He also completed his B. Sc. and began a Master’s Program, which remained unfinished. He taught Mathematics and Biology at Quesnel High; initiated a 2 year Forestry program, and was promoted to Department Head. He loved his students, and they returned his affections. Grad breakfasts were an annual affair at the Dolman home. In 1967 he was promoted to Director of Adult Education for the school district. The program thrived under his guidance, and he also hosted a weekly program on local radio, and edited a monthly newsletter for the school district. He also contributed significantly to the development of the provincial “New Mathematics” curriculum.

In 1969 he accepted a foreign aid posting to Trinidad and Tobago and was appointed to the education faculty of the University of the West Indies as an “expert in the new math”. The three years that followed evolved as wonderful years for Frank and his family. Steve, Kathy and Cam were teenagers now, and met the challenge of separate boys and girls schools, school uniforms, British based curriculum, immense cultural change and being a part of a tiny minority of white kids…… Margot volunteered as a nurse in a medical team which performed corrective surgery on children with cleft palets. Frank plunged into his teacher-training duties, and gained a great admiration and respect for his students and the local teachers who persevered under always difficult, sometimes brutal teaching conditions. The family made many friends, and enjoyed hours of fun aboard “Defender”, a 26 foot sloop which Frank acquired. They had many other adventures, including living through an attempted revolution. They returned to BC in 1972, and Frank worked for the Ministry of Education for a year, heading a group developing a new provincial Adult Basic Education curriculum. During this time he published several papers and edited a provincial newsletter…. He then moved to Mission to work for the School District, and on April 1, 1974 was appointed to a committee to organize what became the University of the Fraser Valley. He and two others became its first permanent employees. He stayed with the College until retirement in August 1989 working at what he described as his greatest and most satisfying professional experience. He was proud of the fact that he initiated the Fraser Valley Symphony Orchestra as a College program in 1984. He served in several administrative positions, his final and preferred one was Director of Continuing Education. His work was recognized at the provincial level by the BCACE and the BCAVA. Unfortunately, his personal life was not so successful. He and Margot separated in 1976 and divorced soon after. In 1978 his second son, Cameron tragically drowned while adventuring in Mexico, and his father Jack died that same year.

Ever buoyant, Frank began a new life in the 1980’s. Now living in Abbotsford with Danielle, who was in high school. He made new friends, enjoyed some wonderful dalliances, and settled happily into midlife. He travelled extensively; earned a scuba ticket in the Red Sea; he smoked opium in the Golden Triangle; and walked the Via Della Rosa once on a Good Friday. He had joined the Valley Musical Theatre Guild in 1975, and took part in Broadway musicals, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and stage dramas for the next 20 years. In 1981 Enid, 15 years his junior, dynamic, beautiful, talented, swept into his life, and changed it forever. They were to spend the next 22 years together, living apart, but committed to each other. They shared the good and bad times; job changes; personal setbacks and triumphs. They travelled the world together, from sailing at Club Med to touring the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Enid accompanied Frank on his pilgrimage from mid-life into his senior years, a wonder, passionate, and tempestuous journey. Here however, Frank faced a difficult change. In the summer of 2003, Enid left him for a younger, wealthy Australian. Gradually healing his wounds, Frank looked to other things in his life— his many friends; playing golf and tennis; continuing with the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir; and most of all, enjoying his children and seven grandchildren. All gave him support. He survived and eventually flourished. In the winter of 2005 he met D’Anne who again brought love to his life. She proved to be a wonderful companion and the person he needed at that time of his life. For the past 5 years, despite mounting medical problems and the various indignities of aging, Frank remained positive and content, although he was fond of saying that “getting old was not for the faint of heart”. Family and friends gathered close and Frank continued to regale them with tales of his life; he recognized how fortunate he had been, reflected upon the fullness and richness of his many experiences, and the deep joy and love he shared with his family and many friends. Frank passed away peacefully August 18, 2011, in Abbotsford, BC at the age of 82; sail on, sweet man, keep your face to the sun and the wind at your back.

A Celebration of his Life is planned for Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm at the Hole-in-the-Wall, 3807 Eldridge Road, Abbotsford, BC. Take the Whatcom Road Exit, east of Abbotsford, go to the north side of the freeway onto Parallel Road, heading east; it will become Eldridge – follow it to the Private Property sign on the left. Frank asked that, if desired, donations be made in his name to the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir, Box 2978, Main PO, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X4. For further information, you may contact his daughter Katherine at 604-556-4228 or e-mail the family at: katherine.littler@yahoo.ca


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