OBITUARY: Joe Dolan, Wilton’s Former Chief Financial Officer 1945-2021

Joseph Anthony Dolan of New Haven died Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Joe was born in New Haven on May 1, 1945, son of the late Alfred James and Kathryn Fitzgerald Dolan. Joe was proud to call Fairhaven his home for most of his life. After graduating college, he held a variety of positions for the City of New Haven, including Deputy Controller and City Treasurer. He retired in September of 2009 as the Town of Wilton’s Chief Financial Officer.

Most recently, Joe had been volunteering his time as the Treasurer of Home Haven. He enjoyed leisurely lunches with friends, traveled extensively and loved to talk politics, history, theatre and the arts. His sharp wit could diffuse even the tensest of situations. He was good spirited, kind and smart.

Joe is survived by his nephew Paul (Michelle) Giovine of Framingham, MA; his great-nephew, Matthew Giovine and great-niece, Morgan Giovine. He was predeceased by his sister, Elinor Giovine and nephew Marc Giovine. He is also survived by his beloved cats Iris and Red. A very special thank you to Kim Cullinane and the Irish Ladies who helped to provide care and support for Joe especially over the past several months.

Visitation is Monday, Nov. 8, from 9-10:15 a.m. at the W. S. Clancy Memorial Funeral Home (244 North Main St., Branford). Mourners will depart at 10:15 a.m. for a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. in Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish at St. Francis Church (391 Ferry St., New Haven). Burial will follow in St. Lawrence Cemetery, West Haven. Directions and online memorial are available online.

Former First Selectman Robert Russell: “Joe made me look good.”

Joe was my most trusted assistant during my years as First Selectman. I knew Joe from when he joined the Finance Department in 1990. When I was elected to the Board of Finance 43 years ago, in 1978, the Town finances were largely done on spreadsheets, with calculators. Computers were unknown. Being an IBM guy, I helped Gene Alexy and his staff evolve into the 20th century.

A few years later, my first selectman predecessor, Burt Jones, hired Joe as finance director.  Best thing Burt ever did. When I campaigned for first selectman in 1993, Burt spent hours showing me details of the job. Much of that training included Joe Dolan. Joe had many years experience working with the ins and outs of Connecticut municipal finance. He knew how to protect us from unexpected expenses. Although his desk was always a classic mess, he could find the exact papers that I was looking for. And he saved me more than once from serious blunders. He made me look good.

Joe struggled with health problems for years but it did not affect his performance. He is sorely missed.

Bob Russell

Former First Selectman Bill Brennan Remembers Joe Dolan:  “A dedicated and talented public servant with a charming personality and an engaging Irish wit.”

Joseph A. Dolan was Wilton’s Chief Financial Officer from 1990 to 2009 when he officially retired. During this time, he significantly improved the Town of Wilton’s financial operations, debt management and citizen services. He was a dedicated and talented public servant who had a charming personality and an engaging Irish wit that I shall always remember.

I first met Joe when I was elected to Wilton’s Board of Finance in 1998, but our working relationship was substantially increased after I became chair of the BOF in 2000. By education, I was not a financial manager, so I had many questions regarding the Town’s financial systems and reporting. Joe was a wonderful, patient mentor to me and with frequent meetings, he became a valued advisor and close personal friend.

When in 2005 I was elected First Selectman, our working relationship became even closer. Joe’s long career in government, with earlier financial positions with the city of New Haven gave him a wealth of practical experience, which was invaluable to Wilton and to me personally. He always provided sound advice and was fun to be with, as he invariably had a humorous story or anecdote to make his case regarding a current issue! At BOF meetings, he had a unique ability to offer a simple, helpful comment that frequently curtailed endless debate!

Joe was a kind and considerate person and was highly respected by his colleagues and many Wilton friends. He had his beliefs and occasionally could be ornery or a bit stubborn, but it was impossible to ever be upset with him. He rejoiced in his cluttered office, but always knew where every single document or scrap of paper was hiding!

His sense of humor was his greatest asset and his skill as a raconteur continually made him enjoyable company. Even in his retirement, when he courageously suffered a series of health issues, he never lost his humorous good spirits and optimistic outlook on life.

Over a decade of Town challenges, Joe was a close advisor and trusted friend. He was one of Wilton’s great assets, wrapped up in a delightful and fascinating personality. He will be missed by so many of us that knew him well. Joe is now at rest and I will never forget him for his dedicated assistance and skillful support over many years.

Bill Brennan                                                                                                                                                    Former First Selectman                                                                                                                             Town of Wilton                                                                                                                                              2005 – 2015

Former First Selectman Paul Hannah: “Joe will be sorely missed.”

It was my good fortune to have Joe Dolan as Wilton’s Chief Financial Officer all 12 years I served on the Board of Finance and as First Selectman. He mastered the Byzantine state mandates for each of its 169 towns and cities. If a difficult problem presented, I knew to seek Joe’s guidance. His advice was always on point and delivered with a disarming, wry sense of humor. In the 16 years since leaving Town government, I had the great pleasure of periodically breaking bread with Joe, even through pandemic times. He will be sorely missed.

Paul Hannah
First Selectman, 1999 to 2005

The story was updated to include a tribute from Bob Russell.