FNCA Remembers George Dole (1931-2021)

by FNCA Staff

George Frederick Dole first attended Fryeburg New Church Assembly when he was 1 month old and continued to attend yearly until he was in his mid-80s when major loss of hearing made lecturing and even casual conversation too difficult for him. He was a core lecturer for most of 50 years. He served as Assembly President from 1965-1973. He also served many years as Vice President, as camp parliamentarian from the 1960s through the 1990s, many years on the Executive Committee and on the Buildings & Grounds Committee, helped open up and close down camp for at least two decades, wrote two songs about the FNCA, and oh so much more.

George was a minister, lecturer, professor, translator, writer, linguist, composer, lyricist, runner, wit, punster, and all around logophile.

He was a brilliant, kind, gentle, thoughtful, perceptive man who genuinely loved people, and delighted in helping everyone move towards Heaven.

Our Facebook page honored him this way on July 2, 2021:

Heaven has gained a wonderful soul. Our beloved George F. Dole passed on to the spiritual world on Tuesday in Bath ME surrounded by his family. One of the last things he said was, “I cannot wait to run again.”

Here are just a few of GFD’s life accomplishments:

1931  born to Rev. Louis & Anita Dole in Fryeburg ME
1937  moved to Bath for the rest of his childhood
1952  graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale
1957  runs in the first 4-minute mile race
1957  marries Lois Seekamp
1958  M.A. from Oxford (Hebrew)
1960  ordained
1960-73   served the Cambridge Church
1960-2010s   FNCA core lecturer
1965  PhD from Harvard
1965-73   FNCA President
1968  sang “Tink’ring w/the Toilets” at Stunt Night
1969-2021   faculty at the theological school
1976  Dole translation of Heaven & Hell published
1982  wrote film script for Images of Knowing
2014  Dole 3 Miler road race created in his honor
2021  died, age 89, ten days before his 90th birthday

A memorial service will be held at the Assembly on Saturday, August 14 after the 8th annual Dole 3 Miler road race.

In 1985, his late sister Louise wrote in her “Reflections” column:

[We remember] George Dole’s witticisms livening of the conversation. One of our favorites came at the end of the session. George sustained a slight wound while helping take down the tents. When asked how he got hurt, he replied, “We struck the tents and one of them struck me.”

Martha Richardson wrote:

He was one of the best, Hard to believe. His care for all and wisdom will be missed. Our condolences to Lois and his family. Love and blessings, Martha

Nancy Little wrote:

I always enjoyed talent night when George and Gard would do their Yankee Humor skits. So funny!

Trevor wrote:

In a lecture one year, Uncle George said something that has stuck with me every since: “Heaven is not a reward for being good. Heaven is what it feels like to be good.”

Dawn Crowe relates a favorite GFD story:

Going for a run with George and Bob Perry at FNCA. An incredible honor and challenge to keep up. Thank you, George! You are missed already.

Lee Dyer wrote:

I like to think of Uncle George returning to his youthful vigor in the spiritual world. In addition to his continued writing and teaching, I just bet ya he’s going to train up to make a stab at that 4-minute mile for himself! 😀

Rev. Julie Conaron wrote:

I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do remember how humble he was and how he refused to take credit for all the amazing work he did with translations of the writings.

Dan Wood wrote:

Rev. Dole was one of my heroes, being both a great spiritual presence and a humble servant of God. A true role model if there ever was one.

In 2014, the FNCA created the “Dole 3-miler” race in recognition of George still running at 83 and celebrating his participation in the famous 1954 race in which Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile. George led off the inaugural Dole 3-miler wearing his original running shorts from the historic race six decades earlier. He finished 37th with a time of 30:06, first in his age group. “Better than I expected,” he commented afterwards. His cheerful presence was cherished by many at the race for the next seven years. 

In 2015, Tina Wood wrote:

…the race was a big hit again, of course. They all love running and are in awe of George Dole.

Rev. Dr. Dole’s book A Book About Us was chosen as the 1st Week lecture theme in 2008.
Rev. Dr. Dole’s book The Universe and I: Where Science & Spirituality Meet was chosen as the FNCA Afternoon Book Club selection in 2018.

At the FNCA Flames 75th Anniversary celebration in 2003, he reprised his Tim Tim parody “Tink’ring with the Toilets” while wearing a yellow mop head wig and accompanying his tenor falsetto on the ukulele…

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