On Wednesday, February 26, 2014, Robert P. Nolan was officially installed on the “Wall of Giving” at the Mayor Norman Edelcup K- 8 Community School in Sunny Isles Beach. Strange thing about this installation, Robert Nolan, never gave a dime towards the benefit or progress of the school. He didn’t have to, others did it gladly in his name and honor. The reason is “The Rest of the Story” as Paul Harvey used to say.
Robert Nolan was the youngest of six sons, pioneers since the early 1900 years, in the City of Miami. Born to parents who were Irish immigrants, they lived a very meager and simplistic life in the outskirts of downtown Miami. Life was very, very simple then. Until World War II broke out.
Just like all the other patriotic and grateful families at that time, America needed to be defended and the Nolan boys were no different. Five of them ultimately became servicemen, the youngest, Robert, was too young to serve at the time. Subsequently, he dropped out of school after 8th grade to help his parents out by working, while the other brothers went off to war. Sadly, he never returned to school to finish his education. He was like so many others whose life changed on a minute’s notice. As soon as Robert turned 15, he fudged his birth certificate and joined the Navy, joined his brothers in service to his country. Now 6 young men, all from the same family, were doing their part for America. Surprisingly enough, they all survived.
Robert returned home after his tour of duty, after the War was over and took on menial jobs like everyone else looking for work. He eventually landed a job and career with the Bell South Corporation and stayed there until his retirement. He never went back to school to get a degree. Maybe Robert had doubts about his educational abilities, we don’t know. It doesn’t matter now anyway. What he did do, is stress the importance of education to every young person he came across. He never said, “WOE IS ME,” he just encouraged them to finish. Robert Nolan could have been a professor in today’s society, teaching common sense, logic, character building and the value of friendship and family. He was an expert in those areas. This big strapping 6’2, 200 lb naval serviceman, was the most gentle and kind and giving man, I had ever met. He only had a few rules, much like the Commandments, but you better keep them to stay on his good side.
Because of the person he was, several contributions were made in his honor and memory. No fanfare, as he disliked personal attention. But after his recent death in 2013, some were so gracious as to suggest his name for the Wall of Giving. Robert’s daughter and family were very touched by this gesture of good will. You see, they are all about insuring the chances of an education for all. Those opportunities were not around in Robert Nolan’s day. College was for the wealthy and already famous. The Nolan boys were neither.
And so with heartfelt gratitude, Robert’s daughter Tracey, and all his remaining family, wish to thank those responsible for his 20 minutes in the spot light and his perpetual memory on the Wall.
If there is anyone you would like to remember or recognize, past or present, maybe a former teacher, coach or a family member, you can obtain information from the Sunny Isles Beach School Trust by contacting Mr. Bob Welsh at (305)931-8625.
So thank you Lew Thaler, Bob Welsh, the Sunny Isles Beach Trust members, David Gartner, Dennis Stubbolo, Mayor Edelcup, who made the wall possible, Chris Russo and Susan Simpson for your support! I am personally grateful because, Robert P. Nolan was my father-in law. Rest in peace and God Bless you and every veteran who serves this great country, past and present.