Nov. 25, 1942 – Aug. 22, 2013
Thomas J. Dolan, a longtime reporter at The Buffalo News known for his investigative skills and tenacity, died Thursday at the Weinberg Campus in Getzville after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 70.
Mr. Dolan worked at The News for more than 26 years, starting as a financial reporter and then moving to the city desk and suburban coverage. At the time of his retirement in 2008, he was covering the Town of Amherst.
He won a first-place award from the New York State Associated Press Association in 1992 for his series of stories about Anthony J. Franjoine, the former comptroller who embezzled $1.5 million from the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Mr. Dolan also drew public attention to a major development issue in Amherst with his stories about its “sinking homes,” built on unstable soil.
He also was on the award-winning team of reporters that uncovered the 1990 city Parks Department scandal.
“He was a bulldog of a reporter. Once he was onto something he knew was right, he never let up,” said Edward Cuddihy, former managing editor at The News. “But he was always fair. Even with those he was investigating, he was always fair.”
Mr. Dolan was born in Joliet, Ill., and joined the U.S. Navy after high school, serving as a quartermaster in navigation and communications. He was a 1966 graduate of Indiana University and received a Nieman journalism fellowship to study at Harvard University in 1974-75.
He started his news career as a copy editor at the South Bend Tribune before coming to The Buffalo Evening News in the 1960s. After a few years, he took a job in his home area of Chicago, where he was an investigative reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and then a television news producer for WBBM-TV, which won an Emmy during his tenure for its reports on loopholes in federal gun laws.
In 1982, Mr. Dolan returned to Buffalo and The News.
“Working with Tom was inspiring,” said reporter Susan Schulman. “During the years he worked in the Buffalo News suburban bureau with me, young reporters would learn just by listening to Tom talk to sources on the phone. He could be both charming and aggressive, depending on the circumstances. Either way, he succeeded in getting the information needed for a story.”
Mr. Dolan was a member of St. Joseph University Catholic Church and its contemporary music ensemble, and he was a supporter of the Western New York Parkinson’s Association and the housing organization HOME.
Although journalism was his passion, in his free time he also enjoyed woodworking and, in earlier years, sailing his boat, the O’Dublian.
His second wife, Marion G. Dolan, died in 2011.
He is survived by a daughter, Kathleen Lipsitz, and son, Terrence, from his first marriage to Judith Fitzgerald, and by stepsons Eric and Evan Groat; a sister, Patricia Davis; and his brothers, Terrence and Robert.
Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Amigone Funeral Home, 5200 Sheridan Drive. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday in Joseph University Church, 3269 Main St.