"He didn't have a specific favorite song," said Marcelle Thompson, a residential counselor for MAB who worked on and off with Bobby for 17 years. "But we'd turn the radio on and I'd say to him, 'come on, Bobby, we're gonna cut a rug right now' and just dance together in his wheelchair."
Dolan, a MAB resident since 1974, died March 20. He was 91.
"He was the happiest person I've ever known in my entire life," said Bobby's niece, Jean Fernekees.
Everyone who met Bobby seemed to feel that the same zest, zeal, and enthusiasm he had for music, he also had for life.
"I'll miss everything about him," Thompson said. "He was an extremely loving individual and he wasn't afraid to let you know that you were loved."
Thompson recalled that Bobby would call her "Ma" when they were out running errands or enjoying trips to the local animal shelter together. "I would say to him, Bobby, I'm too young for you to call me, 'ma' and he would just say back: 'but you are so much like her, you remind me of her and you take such good care of me.'"
The person he loved most, though, was his longtime sweetheart Theresa, whom he lived with at MAB for many years.
"Of course, he was just madly in love with Theresa," said Fernekees. "Their relationship was just fabulous."
When Theresa passed away a few years ago, Bobby was heartbroken.
Bobby and Theresa met at Monson State hospital, where he had lived since the age of 12 before coming to MAB. Although they never married, the duo was inseparable.
If you knew Bobby, you also knew that he loved telling stories. Lots of them.
He may have told you the same story 50 times before but you couldn't help but listen, simply because he relished the retelling - especially if the story was about Theresa.
"I loved to listen to his stories about 'the olden days'," said Bettina Bastien, residential coordinator for the Church Street home where Dolan lived. "He was such a storyteller - I would often ask him 'do you have a story for me today?"
And once his story was finished, his trademark wide smile would spread across his face.
"He always had such a big smile," Bastien said. "I'll never forget that smile."
As Bobby said it in an interview for the 'Our Stories' photography exhibit: "If I had to live my life all over again I don't think I'd change any of it; leave it the way it is."
"MAB is committed to supporting individuals like to Bobby to ensure that people with disabilities can have full and satisfying lives and be contributing members in their communities," said MAB Community Services CEO Barbara Salisbury.
To honor Bobby, MAB Community Services is establishing a fund that will allow individuals supported by MAB to attend live music performances.
To donate, visit the link below and note that your donation is in honor or memory of Robert Dolan:
Visiting hours in the P.E. Murray - F.J. Higgins, George F. Doherty & Sons Funeral Home, 2000 Centre St., West Roxbury on Sat., March 25th from 2-5pm. Interment private. Fore more information or to sign a guestbook visit: