Bipeds of Brookland: David J Nolan,
(DJ and Helen with Ray Bowlding Jr)
David J Nolan known to most as DJ, came to DC to work for Catholics for Choice in 1999 after emigrating to the US from Ireland through London, where he had met his wife, Helen Searls. He is now the Director of Communications for the American Academy of Actuaries.
DJ spends a lot of his free time each summer at PG Pool. When their two kids were young, his wife took them for ‘Toddler Swim’ and “fell in love with PG Pool…. We’ve been members since 2003; it is an incredible resource.” He joined the board after being “volunteered” by Helen and became president a few years ago. DJ explains that while membership was very low when they first joined, it is now full and is evenly balanced between DC and MD families. “A lot of people in Brookland have discovered it…. We now have a waiting list of almost 2,000 families.”
DJ put together a history of the pool as part of a five-year improvement plan. “The pool was founded in 1956, after public pools were integrated, as a segregated institution to exclude African Americans. Maybe I was naïve, but I was horrified when I discovered that. So when we built a new shade structure, I came up with the idea of dedicating it to the man who integrated the pool…Raymond Bowlding Sr.” Working with the NAACP, Mr. Bowlding had sued PG Pool to force it to integrate, but actually never joined out of fear for his children. DJ tracked down the Bowlding family by writing letters to about 30 addresses he found for all the possible iterations of the name ‘Ray Bowlding.’ He learned that Mr. Bowlding had passed away but invited his five children and their families to a dedication ceremony in Sept. 2015. About 25 members of the family came and the children addressed the significant crowd. “That was the highlight of my decade+ at the pool…to commemorate a man whose perseverance and courage forced the integration of a previously exclusionary space.”
Bipeds of Brookland: A semi-weekly series introducing the people who make Brookland their home, one step at a time. Article by Tom Sabella