Declan Richard Nolan, M.D., was born in Dublin, Ireland, on April 11, 1945, to John and Bridget Nolan. He died on Aug. 19, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich., age 76. He spent most of his life in Alaska, with a great love of family, friends, his career, adventure and nature. His wife of 51 years, Kathleen, and children, Genevieve, Osgar and Gerda, remember him with this tribute.
He was the first born and loving eldest brother to eight siblings. In 1966, he graduated from University College Dublin medical school and immigrated to America, where he completed his medical internship in Saginaw, Mich., and met Kathleen. After marrying in 1970, they lived in Rochester, Minn., where Declan completed a fellowship in Orthopedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic. Their first child, Genevieve, was born in 1972. In 1974, the young family made the trip up the Alaska Highway, the beginning of a professional and personal life rooted in Alaska. Declan joined Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic, where he would work for 40 years and develop many lifelong friendships. They welcomed son, Osgar in 1976, and daughter, Gerda in 1978.
Declan’s specialist training, hard work and compassion helped so many people. He brought his pioneering medical spirit and expertise from the Mayo Clinic to Alaska. He served in various leadership positions at Providence Hospital and was Alaska’s counselor for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He felt privileged to teach residents and served as clinical coordinator for the Family Practice Residency Program and Assistant Professor at the University of Washington. Recently, he was pleased to learn that scientific papers he co-authored at Mayo almost 50 years ago are still referenced today, in particular a study of more than 2000 hip replacements. He enjoyed helping his patients, from the very young to the very old, to regain mobility through orthopedic treatment.
His favorite pastime was flying, which enabled him to explore much of Alaska over several decades. He flew to Nome to deliver orthopedic clinics and included friends and family on remote adventures. He always flew with joy, excitement and a focused dedication to safety.
He loved photography and nature, especially trees, birds and weather. He and Kathleen took multiple long trips around the country in their camper van. Throughout his life and especially in retirement, they enjoyed time on their farm in Frankenmuth, Mich., working the fields, planting fruit trees and spending time with Kathleen’s family and friends.
Declan could never be idle for long. He moved through life with enthusiasm, generosity, optimism and good humor, even following a diagnosis of metastatic angiosarcoma in early 2021. He was grateful for the many doctors and staff who worked so hard for his treatment and care, and for the many blessings he had in life. He is the beloved grandfather of Felix – son of Genevieve Nolan and Kevin Kozicz – and Sophia and Emma – daughters of Gerda and Bernhard Stechauner. He is survived by his loving siblings: John, Brian, Niall, Una, David, Hilary, Peter and Louise. He is brother-in-law to 10 and their cherished families, including more than 20 nieces and nephews. May he live forever in our memories. For anyone wishing to contribute, his family asks you to consider supporting the Rogel Cancer Center Sarcoma Research Fund at the University of Michigan. You may call 734-764-6777 or visit the website victors.us/declanrnolan to make your gift in his name.