Leaders and Legends: Cleo Dolan

Cleo Dolan
Inducted 2002
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Cleo Dolan was born in 1918 in Ohio, was awarded a bachelors degree in 1941 and masters degree in Social Administration in 1945 from Ohio State University. He also attended Franklin Law School and did post graduate work at Ohio State University. He and his wife Elinore have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.

From 1952 to 1956 Cleo Dolan served as Social Service Supervisor and then as Assistant Superintendent for the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio. He was the Director of State Services for the Blind from 1957 to 1958.

Cleo Dolan served 30 years (1958-87) as Executive Director of the Cleveland Society for the Blind. Under his dynamic and capable leadership this agency became the third largest private multi-purpose agency in the nation serving blind persons. He was an innovative thinker, a man ahead of his time. The following serve to illustrate this point: in 1959 a low vision clinic was established; in 1961 children's services were established; in 1962 the Aids and Appliances Department opened; in 1969 an intensive rehabilitation program designed especially for teenagers was initiated; in 1971 the Cleveland Society became the first agency to field test the Optacon; in 1972 a Food Service Training Program for snack bar managers was established, a first in the country; in 1975 the Society was designated as a regional center for deaf-blind students; and in 1978 the first Independent Living Residence Training Center in the United States was opened. Keeping step with the electronic age and thus, opening a whole new world of employment, the Society opened the Saint Ann Foundation Electronic Training Center, the first of its kind for blind persons and the Storer Center, one of the finest computer access centers in the country for blind people. He started planned giving in the 1950's and left the agency in good financial health when he retired. Many would agree that the Cleveland Society was a pace setter particularly in job training that others sought to emulate.

Cleo Dolan's professional organizational affiliations are numerous: National Rehabilitation Association, Life Member; American Association of Workers for the Blind, Life Member and President (1971-1973) with Cleveland hosting the national convention twice; board member for National Industries for the Blind, National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving Blind and Visually Handicapped, and the American Foundation for the Blind. He was active in the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind, Affiliated Leadership League for the Blind of America, National Presidents' Association of Agencies Serving Blind and Visually Handicapped Persons, Lancaster Masonic bodies, Lancaster Rotary International, Heights Lions Club, and Garfield Memorial Church. Cleo Dolan represented the United States at international conventions in Russia (1973) and Brazil (1974). In 1988 he was the distinguished recipient of the National Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (NARF) award.

Cleo Dolan Cleo Dolan's Hall of Fame Plaque
About the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

These significant professional colleagues of the recent and distant past are a fascinating cross-section of heroes and pioneers who not only shaped our rich history, philosophy, knowledge and skills, but also give us insights into current and future challenges. These giants shared their personal lives and showed us strategies to ensure that services for blind persons remain unique and specialized. Enjoy their lives and contributions and reflect upon your own list of heroes.

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is a project of the entire field of blindness. It is curated by the American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Visit the virtual Hall of Fame for the inspiring stories of many more heroes of the field of blindness.


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