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John Dollar

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Longtime Rutherford resident, 91, had personal connection

John Dollar, a scholar who died this week at 91, had a window into the world of William Carlos Williams, the famed poet and Rutherford native son.

Mr. Dollar resided in Rutherford, too, and taught philosophy and humanities at the local Fairleigh Dickinson University campus.

After suffering a stroke late in life, Williams asked the school if someone could come to his Ridge Road home to read poetry to him classical poetry, in Latin and Greek. Mr. Dollar, versed in both languages, got the call.

A daughter, Margaret Mullaley, said Mr. Dollar revealed little about the sessions. But her father did say Williams was quite interested in the meter of the classical poems.

William Carlos Williams died in March 1963, weeks before he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Dollar remained a friend of the poet's son, William Eric Williams, who took over his father's medical practice.

Mr. Dollar and William Eric Williams, who died in 1995, collaborated on scholarly conferences on William Carlos Williams. Mr. Dollar lectured extensively about the senior Williams and served on the committee that converted Rutherford's old Rivoli Theatre cq to the Williams Center for the |Arts.

He was a featured panelist when the center celebrated the 100th anniversary of William Carlos Williams' birth.

Mr. Dollar, who retired as a Fairleigh Dickinson University professor in 1988, was a former president of the Friends of the Rutherford Public Library and a much-loved library habitué.

"He'd come in, sit down with you for an hour, and it was an hour you lost but you lost it |in a good way," said Joan Velez, the library's recently retired assistant director.

Velez said Mr. Dollar conversed eruditely about the topics on his radar screen such as courtly love and women in the Middle Ages.

In 2005, the library mounted a production based on a mystery play Mr. Dollar wrote, "The Witch on Ridge Road."

Mr. Dollar moved to Ridge Road William Carlos Williams' street after a stint on Vreeland Avenue.

John Dollar, whom Rutherford honored with a "John Dollar Day" on March 6, 1990, died Monday in Cohasset, Mass.

He is survived by his children, Jerry Dollar of Poestenkillcq, N.Y., David Dollar of Beijing, Margaret Mullaley of Hingham, Mass., and Susan Dollar of Claremont, Calif., and eight grandchildren. His wife, Muriel, died in 2006.

The funeral Mass is this morning fri at 11 at the Church of Saint St. Mary, Rutherford. Arrangements are by Collins Calhoun Funeral Home.

Email: [email protected]
Published in The Record/Herald News on Nov. 30, 2012
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