Philip Dolan, 91

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Philip Edwin Dolan, a veteran of World War II and longtime Coeur d'Alene attorney, departed this world on Jan. 11, 2011, nine days before his 92nd birthday. His wife of 63 years, Mary, was at his side when he passed.

Phil is also survived five children: Stephen, James, Timothy, David and Anne, along with nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

The lifelong Kootenai County resident was born in Spirit Lake on Jan. 20, 1919. His father George, of Irish decent, was one of the original residents of the town, arriving from Wisconsin in 1908, the year the mill town was founded. Working for Milwaukee Railroad, he soon brought his mother and eight siblings to Spirit Lake along with George's longtime sweetheart, Mary Preschinger, whose parents were from Bohemia. Married in Spirit Lake in 1914, the couple parented seven children; four boys and three girls. Their second son Phil was preceded in death by all of his siblings, two of whom were Roman Catholic nuns including longtime Spokane Poor Clare Monastery abbess, Mary Rita Dolan.

Before his 16th birthday, Phil began working at Spirit Lake's Panhandle Lumber sawmill, where his uncle Frank Moran was on the management team. His father George was still working for the railroad, which serviced the mill. Along with his father and two brothers, Phil valiantly fought the devastating forest fire which gutted the mill in 1939. That same year, his lifelong friend from Spirit Lake, Dr. Edward Hamacher, was completing his first year of university studies at Gonzaga in Spokane. He approached the Jesuits there to see if his buddy could enroll, even though Phil had only saved up $300 from his mill work. Phil's application was accepted, and he began working daily with the college's sole maintenance man to pay his tuition. Majoring in accounting while hoping to later study law, he received his B.A. in 1941 just six months before the United States entered the war.

After studying law at Gonzaga for one year, Phil began his military service in August 1942. He fought with U.S. Army forces battling Hitler's troops in Algeria and Tunisia, earning several awards including a sharpshooter badge. A note from him was printed in the Gonzaga News Bulletin in December 1943, saying he hoped to return to the law school one day and asking his classmates to "carve my initials in one of the desks if they are not there already." He was with U.S. forces who helped liberate Italy from Fascist rule in 1945 just as nearby Mount Vesuvius was erupting, and later met up in southern France with his older brother George, a career officer, for a memorable road trip to Paris.

As he had hoped and prayed, Phil Dolan returned to Gonzaga after the war ended and earned his law degree in 1947, paying for his studies by selling sawmill machinery all over the inland northwest. Today, Gonzaga's Law Library contains a plaque in honor of the benefactor's subsequent generous contributions. Coming from a poor family struggling to make ends meet during the Great Depression, Phil would have never dreamed as a boy that he would one day be so honored - along with another Gonzaga graduate of his era whom he knew as a boy, Bing Crosby, who grew up in Spokane across the street from Phil's other close childhood friend, Dr. Edward McCabe. Before heading out for military service in North Africa, Phil asked Frank Moran to save him three lots on Spirit Lake not far from Frank's cabin, one of the oldest on the lake. After the war, Phil built his own cabin there, with the adjoining lots designated for his two physician friends.

While studying law in Spokane, Phil met Mary Louis Hazen, a Sacred Heart Medical Center nurse from Oregon. They were married in Seattle in October 1947, the same year he was admitted into the Washington State Bar, followed by the Idaho Bar in 1948. After moving to Coeur d'Alene with his bride, Phil set up a private practice focused on workers compensation cases, property transactions and estate planning. Later he handled all the workers comp cases in the North Idaho region for the State Insurance Fund, and also represented Louisiana Pacific, Diamond International and many other concerns. He partnered with attorney Ken Jacobsen in 1974. Phil is probably best remembered by many area residents for the legal aid he rendered to clients who could not afford to pay him, especially residents of his beloved Spirit Lake.

Phil served on the Kootenai County Planning Commission and was an integral member of the Coeur d'Alene Elks Club and the GYROS group that fosters friendship between the USA and Canada. Along with his two doctor friends and businessman Bob Turnipseed, he launched one of Kootenai County's most renowned home development projects in the 1990s, the "Bar Circle S" project west north of Hayden Lake. A street running from Ramsey Road into the development is named after him. The Spirit Lake Roman Catholic church was built in the mid-60s on his donated land. Along with his wife Mary, Phil also played an important role in helping to establish care and educational facilities for mentally handicapped children and adults in the Coeur d'Alene area.

Philip Dolan died of natural causes at Kootenai Medical Center, which contains a treatment room in the cardiac department named for him and his family, the result of his philanthropy toward the hospital.

The visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, at Yates Funeral Home, Coeur d'Alene Chapel, with a Rosary beginning at 7 p.m. The funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, at St. Thomas Catholic Church, Coeur d'Alene. Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery, Spirit Lake.

The family prefers memorial contributions to Poor Clare Sisters, 4419 N. Hawthorne, Spokane, WA 99205 or St. Vincent de Paul, 201 E. Harrison, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814.

You may visit Phil's memorial and sign his online guest book at

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