Obituary: Molloy, longtime engineering secretary, 81

Mary C. Molloy, secretary and receptionist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science since 1981, died Sept. 3, 2011, following a brainstem hemorrhage. She was 81.


So exceptional was her service that the department nominated her this year for the Gloria W. White Distinguished Service Award, established to recognize a non-academic staff member for their contributions to the university.

“Mary becomes the surrogate mom, aunt or grandmother to all our graduate students,” department Chair Philip Bayly, PhD, wrote in the nomination, “shepherding them through the milestones of graduate study. She is remembered fondly and visited often by our alumni and our retired faculty.

“As the first person to greet most visitors, she is gracious, welcoming and kind, presenting the best possible first impression,” Bayly continued in the nomination. “Mary is indomitable in body and spirit. She is our inspiration.”

“My mother drew great power from being amidst all the young people and such intellect at the School of Engineering,” says Molloy’s son Michael Molloy. “So she truly loved what she did each day. In Mom’s refusal to ever even entertain the notion of growing old, we all got to witness the artful mastery of aging.

“At age 81, Mary still worked full time at Washington University, walked three miles a day every day, rain or shine, headwinds or tailwinds, air temperature be damned and disregarded — and went to exercise classes two times a week,” her son says.

Mary Molloy was famous for riding her bicycle everywhere in Clayton.

“People seeing her on her routes each day always smiled as she rode by,” her son says.

“Mary was also an accomplished pianist who took music classes at Washington University — with all the study, time required, and rigor that implies — well past the age of 75,” he says.

“Mom knew more people than anyone I have ever seen,” he says. “Just about anywhere you took her — the grocery store, restaurants, botanical gardens — people of all ages would come up to her and say hello.”

Born July 12, 1930, in Oak Park, Ill., Molloy is survived by two daughters, Mary Ann Reddell and Mary Catherine Molloy; and four sons, Michael, Dan, Tom and Tim Molloy. A memorial mass was held Sept. 10 at St. Joseph in Clayton.

Those who knew Mary may request a copy of the eulogy from her son Michael Molloy by contacting him at Mention Mary Molloy in the subject line.