Dirk F. Bollenback, 86, history teacher, writer, veteran

Dirk F. Bollenback, who taught history in Ridgefield schools for 38 years and chaired the Social Studies department at Ridgefield High School, died Monday, May 29.

He was 86.

Bollenback moved to Ridgefield in 1958 with his wife Beverly, who went on to serve as president of the Board of Directors for the District Nursing Association (DNA). They moved to their home on Grand View Drive in 1964. Most recently, Bollenback was living at Ridgefield Crossings.

Prior to his arrival in town, he received a Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan and a Master’s from the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins.

Bollenback won numerous teaching awards throughout his career, including Outstanding Teacher Awards from Chicago University and Tufts University, and the John F. Kennedy Library Teacher Award for “developing creative and effective curriculum and demonstrating instructional excellence.”

Earlier in his career, he was awarded a John Jay Fellowship at the University of Chicago.

Prior to his work in the classroom, Bollenback did a tour in the United States Army as a research analyst and acting instructor in Army’s Psychological Warfare School at Fort Bragg.

In the 1970s, he was at the center of the ban-the-books controversy that involved the high school’s Social Studies and English departments and their respective book selections, including Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice.

“We were under a lot of pressure,” he told The Press a quarter century later. “It was the hardest time I went through in Ridgefield. It all got very personal and I remember being called a Communist at one meeting. In retrospect it was really farcical; I’m a very conservative guy.”

Before retiring in 1996, Bollenback pushed for a curriculum that focused on citizenship and civility.

“Kids today are bombarded with so many different messages from so many different directions that I don’t know how they become civil,” he said in the 2000s.

In his retirement, he continued his lifelong habit of extensive reading. He enjoyed playing golf and fishing.

As a community volunteer, Bollenback served as a patient’s representative at Danbury Hospital and sung in the choir of St. Stephen’s Church.

He was also the church’s historian, which sparked his second career as a writer.

Bollenback authored a book about St. Stephen’s Church history from 1975 to 2000, picking up where historian Robert Haight had left off.

“He has done a marvelous job of incorporating the history of the parish with the national events that were unfolding,” said Rector Dick Gilchrist after Bollenback had sifted through church files, notes and reports for months to complete his research.

Dirk is survived by his daughter Ann Jamison from Fairfield, along with Tom Jamison and their son Connor. Wyatt and Maureen Anderson of Fairfield and their children Norah, Brady, Quin and Seamus. Matt and Courtney Jamison from Fairfield and their son Colin. Ryan Jamison from Fairfield. Melissa and Don Clark from Centerville, Del., and their family along with many other extended family members.

Services are planned for Saturday, June 3, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Church, 351 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT followed by a celebration reception at Lounsbury House across the street from the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to: Music Ministry at St. Stephen’s Church, 351 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT, 06877.