Second in a series of articles on this year’s Eight over 80 winners.
WATERLOO — Dolly Fortier stepped away from a 39-year career in radio broadcasting in 2008, traded her house for an apartment and tried out retirement.
It didn’t suit her.
“I’ve got a motor that never stops,” Fortier said. “God has blessed me with the energy to do things. I just love being busy, and I love people.
“I don’t think we’re put on this earth to just sit and twiddle our thumbs,” she added. “We’re put here to serve. I am hoping that when I go, I’m going to wear out. I’m not going to rust out.”
So Fortier bought a new home to stay busy with updates, continued her passion for community service and eventually returned to the broadcast booth after a five-year hiatus in 2013.
The Iowa Broadcasters Association’s 2016 Broadcaster of the Year and 2017 recipient of an Eight over 80 Award now hosts the popular “Lunchtime with Dolly” program on KCFI FM 105.1 and AM 1250.
“I loved radio because I grew up with radio,” she said. “It’s just a fascinating industry. I’m just so grateful to have been a part of it, the local history here and to meet the people that have been involved in it.”
Fortier was born on a farm near Britt but moved around after her father died. She’s called Waterloo home since 1956.
As a stay-at-home mom, Fortier was active in the Parent Teacher Association where her sons went to school. She also was very active with the Association for Retarded Citizens, now the Arc Cedar Valley, after her daughter, Julie, was born disabled.
When Fortier decided to seek a part-time job, a friend urged her to apply at KWWL-FM, where she was hired in 1970 as a copywriter and sales coordinator before moving to radio sales.
She moved behind the microphone in 1996 and retired from KWLO radio in 2008.
During her radio tenure, Fortier coordinated the Wedding Extravaganza event and won an award in 1988 from the U.S. Navy for a series of public service announcements recruiting medical personnel.
Outside of her broadcasting career, Fortier was active in the community, serving on the Waterloo Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission, Waterloo Convention and Visitors Bureau and at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.
But she has been extremely passionate about her work helping disabled individuals, including service on the Arc board and an advisory board for Country View, the county-owned nursing facility where her daughter lives.
Fortier still has a fall and winter bowling program at Maple Lanes for persons with disabilities.
“I don’t do it for recognition,” she said. “I do it because it’s something I’m interested in.”
The Rev. Karolyn Zbornik, one of several people nominating Fortier for the Eight over 80 Award, marveled at how she was able to balance raising her children with her job and volunteer work.
“She gives our Lord all the praise for the gifts, strength and blessings he has given her,” Zbornik said. “And we, as a community, have been blessed because Dolly chooses to share her gifts with us.”
Her co-workers Mary Williams and Lori Payne said Fortier exemplifies service and integrity.
“We would like to be just like Dolly if we’re lucky enough to make it to 80,” they wrote in a nomination letter.
Fortier has some words of advice for those who are still a long way from 80.
“Think about what it is that you really like to do and figure out how to make a living doing it,” she said. “And you don’t ever go to work.”
“I’ve got a motor that never stops. God has blessed me with the energy to do things. I just love being busy, and I love people.” Dolly Fortier