The untimely death of his mother, Rose Nolan, by a drunk driver in 1981, hit the young Ted Nolan hard. But as often happens, the closing of one door led to the opening of another. While it took Ted awhile to put it all together the idea of honouring the memory of his mother gradually emerged over the years. He readily admits she had a profound impact on his life.
Through her, he had acquired the strength to persevere in times of hardship. Her wisdom, patience and faith in the Anishinabek was passed on to Ted and he wanted to honour her contribution to him and, ultimately, to all those young First Nation kids who saw her son make it in the NHL as a player and coach of the year. He has said, “Mother had a strong and profound influence on my life.
My siblings and I were guided, strengthened and encouraged by the importance and value that she placed on an education and contributing to our community.” She was an unschooled person who did not make it beyond the primary grades. Not one to allow her schooling to interfere with her education, Rose’s community work was recognized by leaders in her home community of Garden River First Nation and in nearby Sault Ste. Marie.
She represented Garden River on the local school Board and also served on the Board of Education in the Soo. She was connected to the Algoma University College based in the old Shingwauk Institute, founded by the great Anishinabek Chief Shingwauk back in the late 1800s. To honour her in 1994, Ted established the Rose Nolan Memorial Scholarship Fund to aid in the success of the educational and training goals of First Nations women throughout Canada. For a decade, Ted held a summer golf fundraiser for the scholarship fund which was enthusiastically supported by First Nation organizations and others across the provinces.