Philip Jarvis Dolan, the son of Captain (US Army) Joseph Cuthbert Dolan and Alice (de Gravelle) Dolan, was born in Jeanerette, Louisiana on 5 October 1923. Phil was the elder of two children of a career officer in the Field Artillery.
There followed typical tranfers, including Lafayette, Indiana, where his father was Professor of Military Science at Purdue University. When Phil was nine, his family moved to Louisiana and settled there after his father retired for physical disability. His father, who died when Phil was eleven, remained a source of inspiration which accounted for his unswerving determination as a cadet to be commissioned in his father’s branch. He achieved that goal and served with honor and distinction for 22 years.
In 1940, Phil graduated from Saint Peter’s College (Christian Brothers High School) at age 16. He was class valedictorian, had the highest average in the school up to that time, and played on the six-man football team. The school won the state championship in Phil’s senior year, and was named All-American. Phil also sang in the choir and played saxaphone and clarinet in the high school marching band.
During 1940 and 1941, Phil attended Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama, made the Dean’s List, and was awarded the “Freshman Cup” based on a vote by faculty and students.
During 1941-1942, Phil attended Marion Military Institute, Marion, Alabama and Phil won one of five Presidential appointments to West Point.
As a cadet, Phil excelled and was awarded "Stars” for academic excellence. Quiet, competent, determined, he lived successfully with the system, mature enough even in his late teens to realize that the frustrations of cadet life were the price necessary to achieve his goal of a regular commission and a career in his father's footsteps. His respect for the prestige and the traditions of West Point never waivered. He combined an acute mind with a wry sense of humor, enabling him to achieve academic excellence—he graduated 35th in a class of 852—while earning the affection and respect of his classmates. At least one of them—his roomate for their entire cadet careers—credits Phil with aid and encouragement without which plebe math would have claimed one more victim.
After graduation in 1945 and marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Heloise de La Houssaye, he served in the Army of Occupation in Germany for three years. Shortly after returning from Germany, he was assigned to Fort Sill, which led to his assignment to the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (which was still called the “Manhattan Project”) at Albuquerque/Los Alamos. Phil stated that this move changed his entire career. This tour was followed by two years at Killeen Base, Texas. After completing work at the Field Artillery Advanced School at Fort Sill, where he graduated first in a class of 1,000, he earned a master's degree in Nuclear Physics at the University of Virginia in 1956. He then rejoined the Special Weapons Staff in the Pentagon from 1951 through 1959. After completing the Command and Staff Course in 1960, he served a short tour in Korea before joining the faculty of the Command and General Staff College. During this assignment, Phil wrote the following: Joint Army/Navy/Air Force/Marine Manual, Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons and the Army Manual, NucIear Weapons Employment (three Volumes).
On 27 July 1965, Phil was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, and cited for meritorious performance of duties as instructor, Department of Special Weapons, from 15 August 1961 to 30 June 1962, and as Project Officer, United States Army Combat Developments Command Combined Arms Agency, from 1 July 1962 to 1 August 1965. His extensive background in the nuclear energy field and excellent grasp of military techniques resulted in outstanding instruction to students and better understanding at the Army Staff level in Washington of the subject of Nuclear Weapons Employment.
Phil retired from active duty in 1967 and pursued a second career as a nuclear physicist at the Stanford Research Institute at Menlo Park, California, until 1981. While there, he collaborated with Samuel Glasstone in 1977 to produce a comprehensive revision and updating of the definitive edition of The Effects Of Nuclear Weapons, published jointly by the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. This was the only unclassified book on this subject and was translated into eight languages.
In 1981, after 14 years, Phil retired from Stanford Research Institute and accepted a position with Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Inc. in Sunnyvale, California until he retired permanently on 31 January 1989.
He was an associate member of The Society of the Sigma XI, and was a member of the Virginia Chapter. This organization is devoted to the promotion of research in science.
Also, Phil was a member of the Honor Society of the Phi Kappa Phi, which recognizes and encourages academic excellence.
Phil and Heloise were divorced in 1977, and he married the former Mary Adams Hoyt on 2 July 1988.
On 5 January 1992, Phil died suddenly of congestive heart failure at his home in Palo Alto, California. He is survived by his wife, Mary Dolan of Palo Alto; two sons, Dr. Philip Dolan Jr. of Kansas; Peter Dolan of Texas; four daughters, Patricia Schmick of Alaska; Missy Dolan and Mary Dolan of Oregon; Lenore Matson of Minnesota; his sister, Marion Wolford of Louisiana; his stepdaughter Eileen Hoyt of San Fransisco; and six grandchildren.
Phil Dolan’s life was characterized most of all by his unwavering sense of duty and honor. Every person who knew him could sense in him a man of the highest integrity. All his quiet confidence and outstanding work as an officer and scientist rested firmly on the bedrock of his character. His surviving family, and all of us who knew him well, will proudly remember him as a steadfast example of the ideals of West Point.
His family and friends join in saying “Well done, Phil; be thou at peace.”
BG Jesse C. Gatlin, Phil’s roommate;
Mary Hoyt Dolan, his wife; and Peter Dolan, his son
- Mrs. Philip Dolan
- COL John L. Kennedy Jr. USA, Retired