Mary Bollinger

Obituary
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Mary Ann Bollinger

1935-2012ADVOCATE, CHAPLAIN

Mary Ann Bollinger, of Pittsfield, died at Berkshire Medical Center (BMC), Oct. 27, 2012, aged 77, after long illness.

She was born Aug. 16, 1935, in Zanesville, OH, to The Rev. William Albert Rush, from Wales, and Sara Elizabeth Hert Rush, of a rabbinical line, from Switzerland. They lived in Adrian, MI, and later, Nashville, TN, where Mary Ann graduated from West End High School, noted as a cellist and pianist. She attended The George Peabody School for Teachers (now part of Vanderbilt University), and Ohio Wesleyan University, until she had to help support her family following the early death of her beloved father.

Mary Ann was devoted to social work for the disenfranchised. She served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, and as a missionary in Mexico. She was an activist in nearly every community in which she lived, for populations and causes including unwed mothers, children in courts, migrant workers, Native Americans, and Head Start; for some time, she was also an ombudsman for the poor of the NYS Adirondacks.

She began her state government career in the Department of State, working for then-Secretary of State Mario Cuomo. She continued to serve with him in his Office of Lieutenant Governor and then Governor. From there, she held positions of Program Associate for the Governor's Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services, Assistant Advocate with the NYS Office of Advocate for the Disabled, and Policy Analyst for the NYS Department of Health, Bureau of Program and Policy Development; she also participated in The White House Conference on Families when he was Chairman.

Over the years, she was on the board of many groups, and was involved with The NYS Coalition of Labor and Religion, The NYS Public Defenders Association, Adirondack Legal Services, The Adirondack/Lake Champlain Girl Scouts, and Independent Living of The Hudson Valley; she was a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, and the (Buddhist) Karuna Tendai Dharma Center.

Despite decades fraught with physical decline, she continued seeking to help others. Most notably, with her service dog, Chaz, she was a chaplain at BMC for many years, until her health battles escalated; the goal to return to this work inspired her until the end of her life.

Mary Ann married Ralph Stanley Bollinger on Dec. 21, 1966, and was widowed May 21, 2004. She leaves their daughter Diedre Devere Bollinger and her mate Douglas MacDonald, who've adopted Chaz; and daughter Cheryl Ann Bollinger Eveland, her husband Evan, and three grandsons, Connor Quinn, Logan Patrick, and Colin Baron.

Predeceasing her were her parents, sister Helen Elizabeth Rush Moore, and brother Thomas Albert Rush.

FUNERAL NOTICE: A memorial service will be at BMC's chapel, Saturday Nov. 17, 2012, 11 a.m., arrangements through Wellington Funeral Home. Memorial donations may be made to the NEADS program (National Education for Assistance Dog Services), P.O. Box 213, West Boylston, MA, 01583, or online (www.neads.org).
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Nov. 12, 2012
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