After a short illness, John James Nolan, known as Jack, died peacefully at his home in Wheelock, VT, surrounded by his close-knit family. Jack was born in Northampton, MA in 1940, the fourth of six children, and grew up in its vibrant Irish community of first- and second-generation immigrants. His mother, Molly Nolan (née Murphy), left Ireland at age sixteen to come to Western Massachusetts, where she met and married Philip Francis Nolan. Jack graduated from St. Michael’s High School in 1958 and joined the United States Marine Corps, serving for four years as a radio repairman, mostly in the Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. In 1962, having received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, he matriculated at the University of Massachusetts, where he majored in Electrical Engineering. In 1966, he was inducted into the electrical engineers’ honor society, IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu, and graduated with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering in June.
Two months later, on August 6 at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield, MA, Jack married Carolyn Curran of West Springfield, MA, a graduate of Our Lady of the Elms and third-grade teacher at the Fausey School. The couple relocated to Waynesboro, VA, where Jack began work as a project engineer at General Electric. They remained in Virginia for seven years before returning—now a family of six, soon to be seven--to New England, where Jack had been hired as a project engineer at Fairbanks Scales in St. Johnsbury, VT. He would remain at Fairbanks Scales for twenty-six years, until his retirement in 1999. As an engineer, Jack was known for his innovative designs. In 1975, he was awarded US Patent #3,976,861 for a digital lathing device for maintaining constant surface speed. He was also a brilliant troubleshooter, with an ability to “see around corners” in diagnosing digital and mechanical problems that sent him all over the US, as well as to the South Pacific and Europe, to install and adjust Fairbanks systems. In later years, he became a familiar figure at his son Tim’s business, PCOVT, as a technical advisor and emergency problem-solver.
In 1974, Jack and Carolyn bought a house in Wheelock, VT, and Jack’s remarkable range of skills came to the fore. He was elected to the Board of Selectmen for several terms and in multiple years was elected Chair; he was a long-time volunteer fireman for the Sheffield-Wheelock Fire Department; and he served on the UD#37 School Board and as Justice of the Peace. In later years, he was a regular caller for the Knights’ of Columbus Bingo Nights. In the course of restoring the Nolans’ Vermont farmhouse, Jack learned traditional masonry from his uncle, Con Murphy, in order to replaster the walls; he built two chimneys; shored up the foundations; replaced ceilings; rewired and replumbed, and hung endless yards of wallpaper. Jack loved working with wood and built many beautiful pieces of furniture. When he retired, he studied baking and became a remarkable maker of pies, breads, and rolls, all of which he perfected with the same precision he brought to his work as an engineer. He and Carolyn spent many happy hours experimenting with new cooking techniques, gadgets, recipes, and foods. As their family grew to include spouses and grandchildren, their Thanksgiving dinners became legendary feasts.
Jack was predeceased by his parents, Philip and Mary Nolan; two brothers--James Nolan and Philip Nolan; and his sister-in-law, Eleanor Curran Fitzgerald. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn Curran Nolan; three sisters--Mary Galvin and her husband John; Katherine Gonski and her husband Joe; and Judy Johnson and her husband John; four sisters-in-law--Lucianne Nolan, Doreen Nolan, Kathleen Curran, and Ardis Nolan; a brother-in-law, Brian Fitzgerald; five children--Maura Nolan; Kathleen Dale; John Nolan; Timothy Nolan; and Daniel Nolan; his son-in-law Dan Blanton; and five grandchildren—Colleen Nolan and her mother, Kimberly Moore Nolan; and Siobhan, McKenna, Kaleigh, and Hunter Dale and their father, Darren Dale.
Visiting hours will take place at the Guibord-Pearsons Funeral Home on Monday, January 31 from 5:00-7:00 pm, and a funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 am on February 1 at St. Elizabeth Church, both in Lyndonville. Jack wished to be buried at St. Mary Cemetery in Northampton, MA. Committal service will take place on Saturday. May 14, 2022 at 10:00AM with Fr. Lillipop officiating. Military Honors will also take place at the same time.
Memorial donations may be made to Good Shepherd Catholic School in St. Johnsbury, VT, online at https://www.goodshepherdschoolvt.org/support-us or by mail to 121 Maple Street, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819; phone number (802) 751-8223; and email firstname.lastname@example.org .