ELYRIA — Those who got the chance to know Pat Nolan wound up blessed with a fierce friend who stood by them, cared for them, and wanted above all else to see that they — and he — enjoyed life to the fullest.
The owner of DOT Diamond Core Drilling Inc., Nolan died unexpectedly at age 53 Wednesday.
While his death clearly shook friends and family and left them with an abrupt void they cannot fill, they took comfort in talking about a guy who embraced life with as much vigor as he embraced work.
“If you never had the pleasure of meeting him, you missed out,” Matt Nolan, Pat’s brother, said Saturday as a small group of male relatives, and two close friends, Matt Szefcyk and Billie Dellefield, shared memories, laughs and some quiet moments at the company’s Sugar Lane offices Saturday afternoon.
“Chances are, he would have liked you if he met you,” Matt Nolan said.
Brendan Kelly, his wife Sally (Nolan’s sister) and others had accompanied Nolan and his wife, Jeannie, for a fun night out at the Jimmy Buffett concert Tuesday night at Blossom Music Center.
“We did the responsible thing and chartered a bus,” Brendan Kelly said. “We had a good time. On the way back, Pat fell asleep.”
Nolan never awoke, according to Kelly.
The exact cause of his death is not known, Kelly said. “There were no overt signs of anything physical. We just don’t know.”
Concerts, Browns and Indians games, and other outings were some of the ways Nolan enjoyed life with family and friends.
“He was a very family oriented man,” Matt Nolan said.
“He always wanted to be with someone to enjoy life with,” Brendan Kelly said.
Founded in 1974 by Pat’s father, Leo F. Nolan Sr., who passed away in 1992, DOT Diamond Core Drilling is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
“We’ve grown 100 percent in the last five years,” Pat’s son, Ryan, the firm’s vice president, said of the company that specializes in concrete cutting and drilling.
“It’s grown exponentially,” Brendan Kelly said.
Today the company has grown from its Elyria base to locations in Cincinnati and the Washington, D.C., area.
His family and friends all credited much of that success to Nolan’s all-out style of business.
“Pat was very aggressive,” Matt Nolan said. “He attacked life.”
The company’s many projects, past and present, range from Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena to Cleveland’s Federal Reserve Bank branch, and Tower City.
In Washington, D.C., DOT Diamond has worked on such national landmarks as the Pentagon.
“After 9/11 when the plane hit the Pentagon, it underwent a total renovation, and we did all the concrete cutting,” Matt Nolan said. “We were there for seven years.”
Just as his father did, Pat Nolan firmly believed that business rose or fell on professional reputation and customer service.
“Pat learned a lot of work ethics from Dad,” Matt Nolan said. “It was always get up every day and let’s get at it.”
And he also believed in doing business by certain old-fashioned standards.
“He’d tell you to get away from the email and go talk to people face-to-face,” Ryan Nolan said.
Matt Szefcyk, a family friend and company employee, recalled his boss’s practical advice.
“He’d always say to stay calm and move forward, especially if you’d had a bad day the day before,” Szefcyk said.
“He was always ready to forgive and forget,” Brendan Kelly said. “Everybody deserved a second chance.”
Asked to share favorite stories of funny moments involving Nolan, everyone laughed.
“We’d be here till next week if you want stories,” Matt Nolan said.
Asked what made Pat Nolan such a likable guy, Matt Nolan answered, “it was how he talked. He made you comfortable. You were never bored around Pat. You were always laughing.
“I’m totally convinced that if it weren’t for concrete-cutting, Pat would have been a stand-up comic,” Matt Nolan said. “He was so witty and quick.”
When he wasn’t working, or working at enjoying life with family and friends, Pat Nolan delved into his personal passion as an antique car and motorcycle collector.
“He loved old Harleys,” Brendan said. “He’d refurbish them and then get them on eBay and make a little money.”
A 1961 Corvette was an unfinished project for Pat and Ryan.
Visitation is 2 to 6 p.m. today at the St. Mary Parish Hall, 320 Middle Ave. Services will be Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Church.
Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery in Amherst.
The family asks that any and all memorial contributions be made to the Jake Nolan Foundation, P.O. Box 683, Elyria, OH 44036.
The fund was established in 2007 by Pat and Jeannie Nolan to honor their son, Jake, who died at age 18.
Averaging $12,000 a year in contributions, the foundation supports efforts including Second Harvest Food Bank and Blessing House.
“The six of us can say ‘he was my best friend’” Matt Nolan said.