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The Friends Academy community is saddened to share about the passing of alumni grandparent and long-time Friends Academy supporter Helen Ann Dolan, who died Saturday, August 19 at 96.

“Saddened as we are at Helen Dolan's passing, we recall fondly and gratefully her loyalty and devotion to Friends Academy.  From the moment it opened, the Helen A. Dolan Center has enhanced the lives of every student who has walked through its doors,” said Head of School Paul J. Stellato. “Helen and her family understood the transformative power of the arts and sought to ensure that generations of Friends Academy students would benefit from the richest experience they could offer.  The proof of her wisdom is found in the lives our students lead,” he added.

On behalf of the Dolan family, Helen, an accomplished musician and artist, was instrumental in propelling the Arts at Friends Academy to even greater heights with their transformational philanthropy that fueled the construction of the stunning Helen A. Dolan Center in 1999.  

1997 Groundbreaking Ceremony for Dolan Center (2) (1)The groundbreaking ceremony for the Helen A. Dolan Center. Pictured, Marianne Weber of The Dolan Family Foundation takes a ceremonial “dig,” along with groundskeeper Mario Capobianco, Headmaster Marcus Hurlbut; parent James Dolan;, Co-President of the Friends Academy Board David George; Donna Imbesi Gavin ‘79; Co-President of the Friends Academy Board John Gambling ‘69; and Beta Team teacher Pat Parmelee.

Screenshot 2023-08-22 at 3.28.21 PMA reception at the newly erected Helen A. Dolan Center.


A view of the renovated Friends Academy campus, anchored by the Helen A. Dolan Center.

Featuring a 400-seat theater with 30-foot ceilings, a glass-fronted Atrium, an encircling Art Gallery, Art Studio, and dedicated classrooms, the Helen A. Dolan Center opened with spectacular seasons that featured over 20 exhibitions, concerts, and productions. The Dolan Center also contributed to a unique partnership with Lincoln Center and a storied summer arts program, The Artist’s Institute.

“From Broadway actors to neurosurgeons, to computer programmers and mechanical engineers, student-artists at Friends Academy have discovered (and continue to discover) their confidence, sense of self, and intrinsic value in the classrooms, the studios, and on the stage of the Helen A. Dolan Center,” said Director of Arts Andrew Geha.

Today, the Helen A. Dolan Center is home to a rich array of arts disciplines, including theater, music, dance, and visual arts. Every year, Arts students and faculty stage compelling performances, concerts, and exhibitions that provide the tools and the context for our community to “seek its inner voice and by heeding it, let our lives speak.” 

The Dolan family also donated generous funds to install a crucial fiber optic cable system that brought cutting-edge high-speed internet connection to the campus, which allowed the school early technological advances and paved the way for today’s highly sought-after digital arts program. 

Helen leaves a legacy of family and cherished community, including her husband of 73 years, Charles Dolan, her six children, 22 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. Six of Helen’s grandchildren attended Friends Academy, including Charles ‘06, Ryan ‘07, Aidan ‘09, Quentin ‘12, Claire ‘18, and Connor, a member of the Class of 2020. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Community Foundation of Oyster Bay.

"Please join me in holding the entire Dolan family in the light," Stellato respectfully asked.

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