Camp legend and long time friend, Dolly Thomas passed away on December 21st in her home at College Walk in Brevard. Her memorial service will be held in Brevard on Saturday, January 11th. Generations of Illahee girls remember Skip and Dolly fondly from their leadership of the riflery program at camp. From Long Island, NY, they first came to Illahee in 1958. They were to spend 23 summers teaching riflery at Illahee and they retired in the Brevard community. Their daughter Lynn attended as a camper and counselor for eleven summers and when Dolly and Skip were coaxed out of retirement by directors Frank and Elizabeth in the mid-‘80’s, their granddaughter Jenny Simmons attended as a camper.
Skip and Dolly’s character and caring attitude toward the campers left a lasting mark. Besides the goal setting and personal accomplishment that the sport provided, much of its early popularity was attributed to Skip and Dolly. Skip added a spark to the range and many alumnae recall his challenge for learning the longest name in the world – a village in his homeland of Wales. An ice cream reward at Skip and Dolly’s house was given to campers who could recite the correct pronunciation of LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRND-ROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH.
Riflery continues to be one of the most popular activities offered at Illahee with well over half the campers enrolled in it and full classes five periods a day. And campers continue to sing the popular Illahee song, Roots (to the tune of Adelweiss) which Skip wrote:
Roots that grow, deep and low, bind our friendships together,
Through the years, joys and tears, bless Illahee forever.
Roots that entwine in a love divine, none can ever sever,
Make us strong, we belong, to Illahee forever.