Mary-Elizabeth Collins

January 24, 2021

Mary-Elizabeth Collins passed away on January 24 at the age of 97. She was part of the West Side family for more than 90 years, met her late husband Jack here, was a brilliant harpist and was deeply committed to mission work. Please keep her children (Nancy, Karen and Michael) and their families in your prayers. A memorial service will take place at West Side on Saturday, February 27 at 2:00 pm. 

To give a gift to West Side in Mary-Elizabeth's honor, please click here

To make a donation to Youth Self Development, where Mary-Elizabeth volunteered for more than 20 years, please mail a check to West Side with YSD in the memo line. 

To make a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which she supported for many years, please click here


Marc Oehler on January 28, 2021 10:47am

What a beautiful, deeply engaged and loving human being! I treasure the conversations we had, the encouragement she gave me personally, and her sincere desire to be helpful to the poor and vulnerable. I never met Jack, but I sense I would have loved him as well. And I have heard they were a dynamic duo! I miss you, Mary Elizabeth. Well done, good and faithful servant...

Chris Wilhjelm on January 28, 2021 12:01pm

Mary Elizabeth was a gift from God. A beautiful person inside and out, she brought grace wherever she went. A wonderful musician with a delicate and loving touch, she contributed mightily to our lives. Her husband Jack was a constant companion, traveling with her to rehearsals and concerts for years. Surely their reunion will be glorious. Thank you, Mary Elizabeth, God be with you.

Anonymous on January 28, 2021 12:09pm

Mary Elizabeth was one of my favorite Feisty Ladies. She was such a lovely, gentle soul, always ready to ask how our family was, etc. We also, as families, had great ties to Rutgers University as Jack was a graduate, Michael was a member of the Glee Club at Rutgers (a particular connection to my Bill), and the family were members of the Chancel Choir at West Side. We always admired how talented Mary Elizabeth was at the harp; for many years she has shared those talents with students. I personally will miss her smile and special greeting. - Barbara Spiegel

John Hahn on January 28, 2021 12:19pm

I had the pleasure of knowing Mary Elizabeth. She was an incredible woman and harpist. Her Volvo wagon was her vehicle of choice. She enjoyed a full life. She made the world a little better when she shared her musical talents. Rest in Peace.

Lisa Hahn on January 28, 2021 12:33pm

Oh, what a lovely lady Mary Elizabeth Collins was. Always a smile and kind word for others. Her musical talents graced many WSPC events and services. I enjoyed knowing her and will cherish the memories. Peace to her family and dear ones.

Sandra Martin on January 28, 2021 1:12pm

Mary Elizabeth arranged for our youth traveling to Reynosa, Mexico, to work in the D.I.F. clinic in 1993 to have a day trip to the United Nations to learn more about the conditions in Mexico at the time. She was a very sharp woman who was always interested in others.

Merrill Schuetz on January 28, 2021 3:04pm

I am blessed with the memories of the time we shared over the years in our small group meetings at the Bugel’s home.

Carla Patricia Auld on January 28, 2021 5:57pm

All I can say is I have another angel in heaven...she was always so kind and appreciative of my performances and so complimentary. I am indeed saddened to hear this news, however I know she is off to reunite with her husband, who, like her, shared a devotion to the Presbyterian Church. May you Rest In Peace, Mary Elizabeth. You've impacted the lives of so many harpists with your teaching, performances and lovely twinkle in your eyes. Play on forever!

Mary Stuart Gephart on February 11, 2021 6:51am

Mary-Elizabeth was an inspiration to us all! My favorite memory was when West Side hosted Family Promise and I was Chair of Mission and Social Concerns. We always had trouble recruiting a volunteer to do the overnight shift. I actually enjoyed doing this shift but needed a second person. Despite her advancing age and the need to sleep on the floor on a blow-up bed, I could always count on Mary-Elizabeth to help. One of those nights I looked over at her and could not help but marvel at her quiet compassion and generous spirit. How blessed the church and the world was to have her in it.

Karen-Elizabeth Collins, Mary-Elizabeth's eldest daughter on February 20, 2021 9:10am

West Side Presbyterian Church was a vitally important part of Mom's 97 years. She was good friends with innumerable church members over the years, deeply appreciative of Marc's and others' ministries, and devoted to the church's missions, both within the church and in the wider world. She delighted in playing her harp on Christmas Eves and other occasions, and she appreciated the many opportunities to contribute to the church and its witness. Thank you, to all of you, for being such a caring and enduring part of her life.

Janice Sorabella on February 23, 2021 6:18pm

Thank you Mary-Elizabeth for your beautiful, caring life. I am so fortunate to have worked with her on Session and at Youth Self Development and to hear her play her harp. She was always interested in what others were doing and in ways she could help. She was full of kindness, grace and dignity. It is now up to those of us who love her to carry on her good works. Rest in peace, Mary-Elizabeth.

Nancy Sampson on February 24, 2021 4:39am

After reading over the tributes for her, I was fondly remembering how delightful it was to have known her. When I first met her at a Wednesday night West Side service, I was entranced by her beautiful harp playing. Mary-Elizabeth was such a gift to West Side. She had great passion for Mission and was deeply committed to helping others. My memory of how excited she was that the tutoring program ‘Youth Self Development’ in Paterson was able to give more students scholarships for college is one of her many accomplishments. I’m very grateful to have known and learned so much from her. We served together in Missions and Social Concerns. Peace in Christ.

Pam Welch on February 26, 2021 4:04pm

A life well lived, that was Mary-Elizabeth to me. I first met her many years ago when she was a special guest as a harpist. I was in awe to see her play. My fondest memories of Mary-Elizabeth are driving in her Volvo as a team of Math and English tutors shared our weekly journey to get to our lesson in time. I think she was a young “90” when I started with YSD. She would teach English and I would teach Math. Shortly thereafter she wanted to retire as Secretary of the Board. I was quite shocked that she asked me to take her spot. This meant I did the notes for our monthly meetings, but in addition I get to see the results of our efforts! The college students would be sending their college grades, GPA and new schedules every semester to me for their approval for their scholarship money. Wow, what a moment of excitement! When I started with Mary-Elizabeth we only had 3 students at JFK, and now we have about 15. Today we have about 35 students that we are supporting with scholarships from both Eastside and JFK. Jack and Mary-Elizabeth have such a legacy in these former Paterson students. Truly a life well lived in Christ’s service to others. Cheers! Pam

Donna Burdick on February 27, 2021 4:21pm

I'll never forget making beautiful music together with her at West Side memorial services and especially at the 2012 WSPC women's retreat at Stony Point...Serving on the Hughes Fund, she was lovingly supportive of our daughter, Michelle, who graduated from Princeton Seminary and was later ordained at West Side.

Sharon Bizik on February 27, 2021 4:33pm

Mary-Elizabeth and I were in Feisty Ladies together. Even after she could no longer see to knit, she arranged transportation to get to the church and continued to be part of the group. She always was interested in everyone else and their families. She never complained about her situation.
This past year was very difficult for her. The lack of visits by family and friends, because of Covid, was wearing on her spirits. My heart went out to her.
It was an honor to know her.

Lucy Janjigian on February 27, 2021 5:27pm

My deepest condolences on the passing on of my dear friend, Mary-Elizabeth. It was a beautiful service.

Neta Pringle on March 2, 2021 2:43pm

I got to know her when we worked together on a PNC . She and Jack were so supportive and caring when I needed it. It was a privilege to know her. Thank you, Mary-Elizabeth


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