Longtime, loyal client leaves entire estate to Cornell University Hospital for Animals

Norman Nolan was well-known as a loyal client of Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA). When he passed away at age 95 in April of 2021, he surprised many with his generosity, leaving all his remaining money and assets to the hospital and the patients it serves.

“Mr. Nolan’s generosity to staff, faculty, students and fellow clients during his lifetime can now be acknowledged more publicly and will provide critical help to others in need,” says Amy L. Robinson, director of client and family giving.

For many at CUHA, Nolan was a beloved and familiar visitor. While he often brought his many generations of dogs in for care, he would also drop by just because. “More often than not he would pick up candy or cookies and take it to the Vet School hospital where he and his dachshund Grendyl would deliver it to the people at the front desk,” says Dr. Carol Hardy, a longtime friend of Nolan and former senior lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Nolan’s love for the hospital was such that he wanted to support it even after his death. “What he had left, he wanted to go to help the animals,” says Hardy. “He particularly wanted a fund to help those who couldn’t afford the services to have funds to pay for healing their animals.”

Nolan lived a remarkable life. According to his obituary, he ran away to sea and joined the U.S. Navy. He was a gunner on Liberty ships sailing between the United States and Europe. His ship was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland and Nolan was blown overboard, waking up three days later in a London Hospital. Later, he joined the flotilla and landed on the beach during the Battle of Okinawa. Nolan came to Ithaca in 1957 when he was assigned as a supply officer the Naval ROTC at Cornell University, where he fell in love with Cornell and Ithaca and decided to move there permanently in 1963. He went on to work at Cornell in the bursar’s office and at the Ithaca College’s athletics department. He provided housing for many college athletes, including many members of the Cornell men's basketball team.

Norman Nolan
“He made you feel like he cared and was your good friend." -Joby Cowulich, CPS veterinary technician. Photo: provided

Nolan was known for his love of dogs, his first being a Doberman named Caesar. “He was the most well-trained dog I have ever known,” says Hardy. “As Caesar aged, he decided to get a second Doberman, a female called Track. They were a familiar sight walking the streets in Belle Sherman. Later, he took in a number of dogs over the years and sometimes a cat. His pets were his children, he adored them and got the best veterinary care he could get!”

At the hospital, everyone knew Nolan to be outgoing and lovable. Dr. William Hornbuckle, the Rudolph J. and Katherine L. Steffen Professor Emeritus of Veterinary Medicine, remembers his old client fondly. “I remember being impressed by his pleasant, engaging personality and thinking he was a ‘clone’ of my uncle, who was also a Navy veteran,” he says. “He was a wonderful pet owner. Over time, he developed an extraordinary bond with the CPS [Community Practice Service] technicians, who also enjoyed their interactions with his dachshund Willy and later a small mixed breed dog named Foxy.”

Joby Cowulich, a veterinary technician with CPS, first met Nolan when he brought in Willy for care. “He was known for a huge smile and poking fun at people he liked. He always had a joke or something wise to say,” she says. “He made you feel like he cared and was your good friend.”

For those who would like to join in supporting patient assistance, gifts may be made to the Patricia Ann Nolan Day Community Practice Service Fund. Contact Amy Robinson for details.

Written by Lauren Cahoon Roberts