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The Legacy of Jim Dolan

As we celebrate the life and legacy of our founder Jim Dolan (1953-2019), we invite you to share your favorite stories of him and his impact on you.

HOW does someone you meet for the first time just a few weeks ago touch you in such a way that you feel like you have known him for a very long time. Jim I feel made every one feel that way. The few stories I was privileged to hear were just amazing. He made you feel like you were friends. This is a huge loss for not just for the Kayak community but for all the veterans who were blessed by his kind heart and willingness to give back selflessly. Thank you Jim for your kindness and generosity you will be missed. Rest Easy Sir. – Craig Brashears
Met Jim back in 2014, and was honored to share the story of the impact he made with Heroes on the Water. What a wonderful man, who lived what he preached. Giving back. – Doug Dunbar

Where to start? As the tournament director for the the annual Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association tournament, I’ve had a relationship with Jim since he started HOW. The passion, energy, and contributions he made in helping veterans will live on in the legacy that will be HOW going forward. He was the keynote speaker (one of many times) at our tournament last week, so I was stunned and saddened to hear of his passing. I too will miss those pun posts and his sense of humor was just one of the many positive attributes Jim shared with all of us. Such a selfless life lived in the service to others will be his enduring legacy. Rest easy, my friend. – Wayne Bradby 
Jim Dolan
One of my favorite stories with Jim is just sitting at the Ranch outside of Houston at the first HOW Conclave when we were able to gather as a family and take time to formalize our structure. The other one was taking Jim to Capital Hill to talk with our representatives about our program and then go to talk to the VA at one of their programs in DC! Jim was a big brother and friend we all needed when we were trying to find our way after injury and separation from the service. I am so grateful for Sally and Jim in my life! I would not be pursuing my post graduate degree in counselling if it were not the experience of counseling in a kayak when we did our research study. – Frank Dailey 
I never “participated” in any events, just donated when I could. Jim always sent a personal thank you and when he had time he stopped in and had dinner with my family. He had time and a love for people, no matter who you were. I’ll miss his puns he posted on Facebook. He was a serious man with a mission, but always had time for a smile and a laugh. – Ken Nilsen
Mentor, friend and leader! I was Jim’s First Officer when he upgraded to Captain at American Airlines. We fished together several times when HOW was just beginning. This is tragic news to me and has hit me hard. GOD, now has one of the finest “fishers of men”! Godspeed. – John P. Thornton 
He was my old neighbor in Allen and him and his Wife and kids were so nice and they were always there for us no questions asked and always the nicest people to be around. God Bless him and his family. What a loss for us but what a gain for heaven. – waynowilliams
He has left a legacy that will shine forever… RIP Jim and thank you for sharing your love of fishing in a way that has touched and saved so many lives – Dadirri_girl
October 29 2016 ~ This date all began back in 2015 when I met Jim in person after a few phone calls. His message was so meaningful, I knew I wanted to help in any way I could. Fast forward, he talked about the need for a new HOW chapter, specifically closer to Ft. Worth. With the support of #BCBSTX we were able to turn that need and the ideas into reality and launch the Brazos River Valley Chapter. Total of 50 in attendance that day; veterans with their families creating bonds with new friends and most importantly healing on the water. I am forever grateful for our paths crossing, Jim. You changed my life for the better. I will do everything in my power to preserve HOW’s mission. – Leslie Cohen Straka
As a member of the North Texas Association of Air Force Academy graduates I remember Jim caually mentioning to us at one of our luncheon meetings about this new venture that he was about to undertake. I cannot believe how far that one dream he had many years ago has blossomed into the great organization that HOW has become. I was one of the first supportes of HOW at the very founding days of the organization. I will always remember Jim for his wisdom and foresight and his willingness to go above and beyond in support of disabled veterans. – BJ Bjorklund
I’ve known Jim since 2012 when Rusty and I helped start the Northeast Oklahoma HOW Chapter. In 2015, I met Jim in person for the first time. He was this big ole bear of a man with this undeniable deep voice. When he got up in front of everyone to speak, we listened. Two things I remember him saying about Heroes on the Water was 1) “just put butts in seats” and 2) “remember the KISS method: keep is simple, stupid”. I think both of these principles can relate to everyone, not just Heroes on the Water folks. First, “just put butts in seats”. He said that so many times it is absolutely etched in my brain. What does that mean? Put butts in seats was how Jim described what to simply do at HOW events. Just get participants in the kayaks and get them out on the water. More importantly, don’t get sidetracked by all the hoopla of the numerous distractions and lose focus on the most important aspect of a HOW event: put a participant in a kayak. Simply, help others and let them figure out the rest. To be fair, this isn’t just a kayak fishing mantra. This could apply to everyone in life. Whatever you are doing to help others, get out there and do it. Heroes on the Water uses kayaks as our vessel to help others but that is not the only way to help people. Use what is at your disposal. Use your passion and just help others, however you can. Second, Jim always said to remember the KISS method. Keep it Simple, Stupid. His definition of this was to keep HOW events simple and let nature do the healing. This goes a little bit with the first one of just get butts in seats, but it is more about the focus of when you help others. Don’t get so busy trying to take someone out in a kayak and make it the best experience they’ve ever had by giving them a gourmet breakfast, steak for lunch, put them in the absolute best and most expensive kayak on the market with the fanciest equipment available. Just. Keep. It. Simple. Merely, a veteran or first responder, a kayak and water. Let nature do its part. Unfortunately, we tend to overthink and over complicate things. Jim always reminded us to keep things simple. Put someone in a kayak and put them out on the water. It’s just that simple. – Amber Helms
I met Jim through my Uncle, Rex Miller. I was able to participate in a couple events in Houston and one in North Carolina while on Active duty myself. What a great organization and legacy the he’s left to our veterans. Jim went the extra mile to hook me up with events near me and help me get involved. I will always appreciate his spirit of giving. He was a true living example of selflessness! You will be greatly missed! – Max Hall
The memory of seeing that man’s big grin as I finished the Texas Water Safari always brings a smile to my face. The constant heckling we would subject each other to while paddling the Texas flats in search of those wily redfish was a source of great entertainment. The lessons he taught us all about service to others though will be his lasting legacy. Jim Dolan was a funny man. He was a kind man. He wanted to make this world a better place and he did just that. He will be missed but not forgotten. Thanks for everything, Jim! – William Manske 
Cheers sir. Only met Jim once a few years ago and I was impressed by his kind selfless concern to help veterans in need. RIP you did good. – Javier Roquebert
My husband and I met Jim and Sally while camping in Pennsylvania. They were our neighbors. So glad to have met him and Sally and hear all about the organization. It was great spending time with them that weekend. Sally, so sorry to hear this. Prayers of comfort for you and your family. – Julie Brossman 
I’m writing from Argentina. Before HOW became a reality, he would share with us his excitement about what was back then, a project. We will never forget how happy he was at the prospect of helping veterans. Jim will always be a part of our lives. – Chris Pontiroli
I met Jim right before H-O-W became a thing. I had the great good fortune to sit beside him at Slowride’s kayak fishing school in Aransas Pass. As a result, I was one of the few eye witnesses to the infamous Double Dip. A recollection of this period of Jim’s life would be incomplete without mentioning Jim’s fascination with the “Whackerita”, the margarita machine made from Slowride’s old weed whacker. Jim was always the life of the party. Jimbo, we’re all immensely proud of you buddy. You did good for an Air Force puke.  – Bill Sims
I met Jim in 2011. He mentored me and served on the BOD of the North Texas Warrior Golf Association. His whole-hearted dedication to serve the warrior population was infectious and purpose-driven. He was encouraging and his advice was always well-tailored. But more than that, Jim was a friend and a joy to be with. I’m comforted in the fact that his legacy will live on through Heroes on the Water – what an effective warrior rehabilitation tool! – Glenn Rosenberger
I have so many great memories with Jim and Sally. But the most important thing about having Jim in my life, was his example of service to all. He showed me that one can find happiness in bringing peace, independence and joy to others…”it’s just fishing.” His selfless actions were an example to us all. We WILL carry this forward and continue his legacy. Although he would never expect it of anyone. It was just who Jim was and the world would be a better place if more were like him. My memories make me smile, but dammit, my heart hurts right now. – Camille M Null 
I remember sitting at the same table with Jim at a Dallas Chapter CCA banquet and auction. Jim was starting to tear up while sharing some stories of how several warriors reacted on their first HOW outings. I still share those stories. – Mike Stovall 
I never had the pleasure of meeting Jim but I know he had a huge impact on my son, Ray Temüjin Queen, so I thank God every day for bringing Jim into my sons life. He will be missed. Prayers to his wife Sally and family – Patty Yates 
We had the pleasure of meeting Jim and Sally while camping at Stoneybrook Campground in PA only a few weeks ago. Of course their trailer caught our attention and we struck up a conversation. They ended up sitting with us around the fire all weekend. Jim was more than happy to tell us all about the organization. We were proud to buy shirts which now have even more meaning. This was extremely sad news to hear. My thoughts and prayers to Sally and the entire organization. – Michelle Moyer 
I had the honor of meeting Jim last week at a tournament. He was a humble man who truly wanted to see the world a better place for our vets and first responders. His legacy will live on through the works of those people that were impacted by his noble efforts. Rest in peace Jim, till we meet at Fiddler’s Green. – Steven Burge 
I was blessed to to meet Jim and Sally the other year during their drive through Washington. The PNW HOW team had a potluck and enjoyed each others company, sharing stories, laughs and smiles. That’s how I will remember Jim – Ray Zaragoza
As once a volunteer, then coordinating events to now Coordinator of HOW South Jersey, I will always be grateful for what he and his buddies started. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, giving thanks to our Veterans and helping others, so PADDLE. FISH. HEAL. was a no-brainer. – George Daly 
VERY sorry to hear this news. Prayers for Sally, Tom, and the entire Dolan clan. Jim was and is an inspiration to many, veteran and non-veteran alike. His love of the outdoors paired with his outsized passion for those heroes who struggled greatly made a significance difference in bringing peace to these warriors and their families. May that same measure of peace rest on those who remain behind. CAVU, Jim. I’m proud to know you and call you, friend. – Troy M. Stirman 
I learned of Jim from my boyfriend at the time. My boyfriend met Jim and Sally when he was living in Texas when they saved his life by introducing him to HOW. My boyfriend considered them to be a second set of parents. In 2017 my boyfriend and I traveled to Houston for a HOW fundraiser. During our flight from Wisconsin to Houston was extremely difficult. My boyfriend wasn’t reacting well with his medications and was pretty much a walking zombie. It was the most difficult thing I had to experience. Trying to get him to be coherent enough to walk from one plane to another was one of the most challenging thing I had to do, while making sure his service dog was staying focused and keeping track of our luggage. Luckily enough, there were wonderful people that helped us board the plane. By the time we landed in Houston he came to enough, but was so angry due to the stress that his body went through and him being confused as to how he even got to Houston. We arrived at our hotel and that’s when he decided he didn’t want to be there anymore and he was threatening to take his life. I was lucky enough to find Jim’s number, I texted him what was happening and he came to the rescue within 15 minutes. He was able to calm my boyfriend down and was able to get him to come out for dinner. Once we got to the restaurant and my boyfriend was surrounded by familiar faces Jim and Sally took me aside to make sure I was okay. At this point no one had ever asked me how I was doing with all of my boyfriends wounds, visible and invisible. They welcomed me with open arms and reassured me that everything was going to be okay. I had never felt so much love and support. Jim had such a huge impact on my life and he will greatly missed missed for forever. Jim was truly a God send and I will never be able to thank him enough. – Rebecca
Met Jim through the kayak fishing circuit and he attended one of our tournaments benefitting meals on wheels in Tallahassee and Wakulla county. He was also at some TKAA tournaments and Jax kayak fishing tournaments and memory serves I might have seen him in Louisiana with the Bayou clan. He was always happy and interested in what you had to say. I just discovered his passing when I got an invite to his memorial tournament. Those who knew him were fortunate. God bless his family and friends. May he Rest In Peace and tranquility. – Jeff Suber