Ethel Josephine Riggs Dolan
May 30, 1919 – November 7, 2018
The amazing, generous and caring life of Ethel Josephine Riggs Dolan, 99, of Oklahoma City, came to a peaceful end with her death Wednesday, November 7, 2018, in her apartment at Concordia Life Care Community. During her long and varied life Ethel was a resourceful daughter, a cherished sister, a good soldier, a tireless newspaper reporter and photographer, a loyal friend, a world traveler and most importantly an outstanding wife and mother.
Born on May 30, 1919, in the tiny mining settlement of Majestic, Colorado, Ethel was one of eight children raised on a ranch in Chicosa Cañon in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. As a child, she rode a horse to and from a one-room schoolhouse and shared the endless chores required of ranching life that included cattle raising and coal mining. With an older sister, she moved to nearby Trinidad to complete high school, and after working at multiple jobs she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps early in World War II. She served in the Philippines and in New Guinea, experiencing combat when Japanese troops attacked her Army post in New Guinea. At war’s end, riding eastward in the same converted ocean liner that first took her to the South Pacific, she came home as a tech sergeant.
Although Ethel planned to enroll in college, instead on May 5, 1947, she married another World War II veteran, Andrew P. Dolan, a natural gas company employee whose career over the years took them through seven locations in five states. When their three children were old enough to allow Ethel the time, she worked as a newspaper reporter and photographer in Woodward and Enid, Oklahoma, once even scooping her son, also a journalist.
Ethel channeled her prodigious energies into arts and crafts and a variety of creative works. She was a relentless and thorough recorder of her family and its adventures, including notes, maps, research material and photos of extensive world travel undertaken during retirement years.
She was preceded in death by her husband in 2010 and remained very active at Concordia. She retained her lifelong curiosity, love of learning and competitive spirit to the very end.
Ethel was beloved by her family and her very large circle of friends. She will be greatly missed by all.
She is survived by her son, Jim (Sylvia) Dolan of Wayzata, Minnesota; daughter Ellen (Tim) Fleming of Oklahoma City; daughter Michele (Kurt Harms) Dolan of Oklahoma City; grandsons Patrick (Lacey) Helmey of Houston and Thomas Fleming of Stillwater; great grandson Wilder Helmey of Houston; brother Robert (Marge) Riggs of Denver; sisters-in-law Arlie Riggs of Westcliffe, Colorado, and Louise Koelling of Wichita, Kansas; and 66 nieces and nephews across the world.
Ethel’s children were grateful for the time they had with her in the last years and are particularly grateful to her nephew, Derald Riggs and wife Gayle, of Arcadia, Oklahoma; to Dr. Rickie Conrady of Centennial Health and nurse Angel; to Lucille Nelson; and to the caring and supportive staffs of Mercy Hospice and Concordia Life Care Community.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Andrew P. Dolan, and her siblings Albert (Laura Mae) Riggs, Melvin (Pauline) Riggs, Daniel Riggs, Mary E. Riggs, John Riggs, and Rhoda Nicol; and by two nephews and one niece.
Services will be at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 13, at Christ the King Catholic Church, 8005 Dorset Drive, Nichols Hills, Oklahoma. A reception will follow immediately at the parish hall. Inurnment will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials either to the Mercy Health Foundation (www.mercy.net/giving, 405.486.8775), or to Concordia Employee Appreciation Fund (mail to Concordia Residents Council, c/o Bill Groh) or to the Concordia Employee Scholarship Fund. For the latter two, memorials should be mailed to 7707 W. Britton Road, Oklahoma City, 73132.