In Memory of




Obituary for Deborah S. Dolan

Deborah “Debbie” Shapleigh Dolan, died on February 21, 2024 in Danbury, CT after a long illness. Debbie was born on November 24, 1935 in Providence, Rhode Island to Theodore and Marjorie (Hunt) Shapleigh and grew up in Hamden, CT. She graduated from the Day School in New Haven, CT in 1953 and received a BA degree from Wheaton College in 1957. After college, Debbie attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio to pursue her Master's degree in Social Work. Debbie met her future husband and fellow CWRU School of Social Work alum Joe Dolan at a bar on St. Patrick’s Day in Cleveland. The two were married on May 7, 1960 in Madison, CT. Debbie and Joe settled in the town of New Hartford, CT in 1965, where they lived for over 50 years.

Debbie’s life was centered around helping others. Debbie was a devoted mother to her two daughters, who she supported and loved with an unwavering spirit. Debbie was a life-long champion of the underserved in her community. As the head of Social Services for the Winsted Memorial Hospital for over 25 years, Debbie helped countless people secure critical services, including many who were in the throes of poverty, medical complications, addiction and mental health crises. Upon the closure of the Winsted Hospital, Debbie later became the head of Social Services for Geer skilled nursing facility in Canaan, CT until her retirement in 1999. Debbie was a well-known member of her community and was active in local environmental and peace and justice organizations. She was a proud anti-war activist well into her 70’s and participated in peaceful protests locally and in Washington DC. Debbie also helped to establish the first community recycling program in the state of Connecticut as a founding member of the Environmental Action Committee in the 1970’s. As a member of North Congregational Church in New Hartford, Debbie enjoyed participating in the choir and helped to organize, collect and distribute school supplies and Christmas gifts for children in need. Debbie loved watching her grandchildren grow up, spending time at the shore with her beloved sister, lingering summer evenings at Stanclift Cove among her dear friends, and walking her dogs by the banks of the Farmington River . She also loved musical theater, and especially the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Debbie’s smile lit up every room she entered, and her infectious laugh will be remembered by all of us who were blessed to know her.

Debbie is survived by her two loving daughters, their spouses, and 5 grandchildren- Susan Dolan and Manny Cheung of Wallingford, CT (Katie, Raymond, Jolene) and Kerry Dolan and Pavel Cupal of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY (Sofie, Miles) as well as her nieces and nephews (Tom, Laura, Kathy, Beth, Leigh, Matt and Todd), all of whom she loved very much. Debbie was preceded in death by her husband Joseph Dolan and her sister Eunice Brinckerhoff, as well as sister-in-law Maureen Sanfilippo and brother-in-law Edgar (Pete) Brinckerhoff.

Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service on Saturday, May 18th at 11:00 am at the North Congregational Church, 17 Church Street North in New Hartford followed by gathering in celebration of her life. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Little Guild of St. Francis ( in Debbie’s memory. The Vincent Funeral Home of Canton is caring for the arrangements. Please visit Debbie’s Book of Memories at for online tributes.