MORRIS – Retirement for 69-year-old Darrell Dolmage will not be spent on the golf course or on the shores of some tropical island, but in a college classroom, where he will work to add “veterinary technician” to his already-extensive resume.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with animals and now I have an opportunity to pursue that passion,” he said.
The former Morris resident and 17-year United Way of Grundy County board member is in no short supply of passion.
Ask anyone who has worked with Dolmage through the years and they will talk about his dedication and enthusiasm.
“You could feel his passion,” said Karen Nall, executive director of the local United Way. “Just through his words and the way he spoke, you could feel how moved he was by the differences being made in the community.”
Last month, Dolmage retired from serving on the United Way board after 17 years, making him the second-longest serving board member in the local organization’s history, Nall said. The longest-serving board member is Lon Lovellette, who began in 1995.
His roots with the United Way stretch back to the early 1980s, when he volunteered with the organization for the first time while living in Clinton, Iowa.
He moved to Morris 30 years ago when he began work as an environmental engineer for LyondellBasell.
“Grundy County is [a] community of givers,” Dolmage said. “It’s nice to be a part of a place like Grundy County.”
During his time with United Way, Dolmage served as president for two years and acted as the liaison for Easter Seals and the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living – two organizations “dear to his heart.”
Incorporating LyondellBasell into the community was a priority for Dolmage. In 1997, he began a volunteering project where workers from the Morris plant would “beautify” the location and offices of one local organization a year.
He also made time for local groups to present at company meetings to keep them acquainted with local charities.
“Whenever I went there I felt so welcomed,” said Deb Condotti, executive director for Easter Seals. “It was so obvious the respect that people had for Darrell. He was a very brilliant man and very dedicated to his job.”
He joined the United Way originally after being asked by an existing board member in 1997.
Dolmage said he watched the organization switch from paper filing to digital databases and watched the operating budget nearly quadruple in size during his time on the board.
“When I was president, we only had about 12 or 13 board members,” he said. “I’ve seen it grow so much over the years.”
Some of his fondest memories were the food drives held for We Care of Grundy County, he said.
Dolmage recently moved to DeSoto, Mo., to pursue his career as a veterinary technician, but said he will be back to visit Grundy County often.
As for the United Way, Dolmage said he is not finished with them just yet and is planning on becoming involved in a local chapter near his new home.
“If I know myself, I probably won’t stay away for very long,” he said.
Condotti said she wishes Dolmage a happy retirement, but is sad to lose him.
“My gosh, you can;t blame him for wanting to move on in life,” she said. “But we will all certainly miss him.”