Nolan named Tri-Citian of the Year
This story was published March 12, 2000, Tri-City Herald
By Melissa O’Neil Herald staff writer
Articulate. Focused. Insightful. Candid. Devout. Humble. Steadfast. Revered. Noble.
A true gentleman.
Those adjectives and more were cited by those who nominated John Nolan for Tri-Citian of the Year 2000. And they were recited again Saturday night as he received the Tri-Cities’ most prestigious award.
Nolan, 74, is a former Westinghouse Hanford president and a leader in numerous community organizations.
“I’m proud to have done what I’ve done,” said Nolan, who was surprised with the award before an audience of about 400 who attended the 21st annual banquet at the Pasco Doubletree Hotel.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than to get accolades from friends.”
The Tri-Citian of the Year award is sponsored by the Tri-Cities’ six Rotary clubs, recognizing a community leader for “service above self” and outstanding contributions to economic growth and the quality of life.
Nolan and Dotty, his wife of 47 years, have seven children and 25 grandchildren. Four children, including a daughter from Virginia and a son from Chicago, and three grandchildren shocked Nolan when they appeared on stage.
The guest speaker was Rich Cowan, director of The Basket, a movie partially filmed in the Tri-City area, in its 10th week at the Carmike Cinemas in Kennewick. Cowan said his experience filming in the Tri-Cities was excellent, and he asked those at the banquet to vote with their feet by seeing quality movies.
“The only thing Hollywood listens to is the money side of things and attendance,” Cowan said. “You don’t always need dark, edgy movies. There is a desire and a need for films with good values.”
Nolan epitomizes values such as caring for others and being dedicated to his community.
Nolan, although retired, still is Kadlec Medical Center board chairman, a Tri-Cities Cancer Center board member, a Boy Scouts Blue Mountain Council executive committee member, Richland Kiwanis secretary and a Eucharistic minister for Christ the King Church.
“John Nolan is one of the most selfless human beings you could find,” reads the nomination essay. “He has been one of our most important individuals in economic development and (in) increasing employment during his 20 years in (the) Tri-Cities.
“He is often the quiet reason that never criticizes but clears the cobwebs of question or concern. He is the unsung hero who inspires others to go beyond themselves, to enjoy the pleasure of doing and to really treasure the moments we share working together.”
Nolan spent his entire 40-year career with Westinghouse Electric Corp., starting as an engineer in Pennsylvania and retiring in April 1990 as president of Westinghouse Hanford in Richland.
He actually was the Westinghouse Hanford president twice – from 1980 until mid-1987, stepping to executive vice president during a consolidation period, then taking the helm again from late 1988 until his retirement.
His career accomplishments include:
— Receiving the Department of Energy’s Distinguished Associate Award in 1990, the highest public service honor given to an employee or contractor.
— Receiving the Westinghouse Electric Corp. Order of Merit in 1984, the highest honor bestowed on an employee. It was based on Nolan’s contributions to advanced nuclear plant engineering and operations management.
— Seeing the Fast Flux Test Facility chosen in 1983 as one of the “Ten Outstanding Engineering Achievements” by the National Society of Professional Engineers.
FFTF was a plan on paper when Nolan first visited Hanford in 1969. Thirteen years later, the test reactor became reality. Nolan was the FFTF engineering manager.
DOE is studying whether FFTF should be restarted for several nondefense uses, including making isotopes to be used in new ways to treat cancer and heart disease.
Nolan said his advice over the years to managers was, “Don’t do anything stupid. I’m taking my own advice. I think I ought to quit talking.”