Obituary: Susan Elise Dollar

Longtime Pomona College administrator, traveler, was devoted to family

Susan Elise Dollar died at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center on November 22. She was 60.

Susan was born May 10, 1962 in Passaic, New Jersey. The daughter of two professors, and the youngest of four children, she grew up in nearby Rutherford and attended Rutherford High School. Her early life was enriched by frequent trips to museums and ballet performances in New York City, yearly visits to her grandparents and other extended family in the St. Louis, Missouri area, and summer vacations on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, one of her favorite places.

Following high school, she attended Wellesley College, outside of Boston, where she majored in psychology. Graduating in 1984, she then pursued a master’s degree in education (Ed.M.) at Harvard University.

Her career as a college administrator, working in development, began at Harvard, where she became assistant director of development operations. She moved to Claremont in 1997, assuming the position of director of foundation and corporate relations at Pomona College. Working on several major campaigns, she also served as senior director of advancement planning and assistant vice president, strategic operations.

She loved Pomona — its students, faculty and staff, and beautiful campus. Don Pattison, a friend and colleague at Pomona for nearly 25 years, remembers her as, “a dedicated staff member, a gifted writer and editor, an effective administrator and fundraiser, and as someone who made everyone — from presidents and trustees to faculty and staff — look their best. Susan was proud of her Wellesley College affiliation, but she quickly embraced Pomona College.”

Her devotion to family also knew no bounds. She was the loving daughter of the late John and Muriel Dollar, from whom she absorbed (among many other things) a love of travel, the arts, and reading. She also learned the importance of family traditions and ceremonies, and this remained a lifelong focus. She was devoted to, and deeply loved by, her three older siblings and her eight nieces and nephews. She could be counted on to show up at any significant family event, although this often involved a cross-country flight.

Her many interests included travel, reading, ballet, walks in the desert (especially in the Palm Springs area), crossword and jigsaw puzzles, old movies, strolls in her beloved California Botanic Garden, and birdwatching.

On several of her memorable trips she was accompanied by her loving cousin Laura Hanson, of St. Louis. Some of their destinations were Hawaii, England, Italy; another memorable trip took her to Beijing, where her brother David and his family were living, and where she was also joined by siblings Meg and Jerry. A photo of the four siblings on the Great Wall was one of her favorite family mementos, gracing her fireplace.

Within the family, she was also known for her strong interest in politics, her encyclopedic knowledge of significant family dates, and her sense of humor.

Although loyal to her East Coast roots, she was deeply attached to her adopted town of Claremont. She delighted in showing off this beautiful area to her East Coast family, who visited often. A drive up Mt. Baldy Road and a walk through the Botanic Garden were “must-see” components of any visit. And she particularly enjoyed hosting gatherings beside her beautiful pool — especially when the visiting family had just arrived from frigid New England and upstate New York.

She is survived by her brother, J. Gerard Dollar and his wife Susan Poisson-Dollar, of Poestenkill, New York, and their children, Thomas (and wife Julia Simon), Emily (and fiancé Omar Fares), Clara, and Hana Dollar; brother David Dollar and his wife Paige Whitley, of Somerset, Maryland, and their children, Isabel and Evan Dollar; sister, Margaret Mullaley and her husband Michael Mullaley, of Hingham, Massachusetts, and their children, Catherine Mullaley (and husband Zach Olander) and Rebecca Mullaley (and fiancé Kevin Gens). She is also survived by great-nieces Willa, Amhara, and Thea Dollar.

A memorial service will take place at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society at; or Wellesley College at


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