VI DOLMAN / 1920-2008
Business executive set pace for women
Viola "Vi" Dolman, a dedicated real estate executive known for her stylish hats and big heart, died last week. She was 87.
Dolman had been recovering from a stroke she suffered in December and died Tuesday at Hawaii Medical Center East, said her daughter, Laura Dolman Andrews.
Dolman started as a real estate agent in Hawaii as a diversion more than 40 years ago and soon began her own company, Dolman Associates Inc., at a time when it was rare for women to be business leaders.
"In the '60s and '70s, a time when women were working on independence, my mom was already quietly doing everything they were fighting for," Andrews said.
Dolman was born in Kansas, the second of six children, raised by a single mother during the Great Depression. It was there, her daughter said, that Dolman learned the value of hard work with her first job selling popcorn outside a theater.
She graduated with her master's degree in virology from Stanford University and came to Hawaii on a cruise ship on her honeymoon in 1953. She was awarded a grant to research cells in a laboratory, and when that money ran out and boredom kicked in, she went into real estate.
Her family and clients describe her as a hard-working, ethical woman who treated every person with respect and kindness.
"She was lucky enough to sort of stumble into real estate from lab research and to absolutely love what she did," her daughter said. "Holidays were almost always spent with customers she sold houses to that didn't have families here. They were like family members."
She merged her company in 1995 with Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties and won several awards, including Realtor of the Year from the Honolulu Board of Realtors and the Hawaii Association of Realtors. Though Dolman could be tough and brutally honest, she also had a soft, feminine side, her daughter said.
"She always wore hats," Andrews said. "She always had to be impeccable. Every hat matched her outfit."
Andrews said she would like her mother to be remembered for her strong belief in her religion and her devotion to community service. She was one of the first female board members of Rotary Club, friends said, and rarely missed a weekly meeting.
"Vi was filled with a genuine kindness that shone through in her quick smile and wit -- a pillar of support who always provided encouragement and praise," said Elizabeth Reynolds, president of the Rotary Club of Honolulu.
Dolman was survived by siblings James and Marjorie, daughter Laura Dolman Andrews of Wailupe, son David of Aina Haina and five grandchildren.
Visitation is scheduled beginning at 3:30 p.m. Sunday with service starting at 4:30 p.m. at Holy Nativity Church.