RAYNHAM — Phyllis Jean Ruth Bollinger, former Raynham mayor and founder of the Raynham Indian Assembly Church, died on Thursday at her home. She was 79 years old.
A Rowland resident, Bollinger served as mayor of the small community for 25 years.
“She was a very energetic lady, and she always worked very hard,” said Raynham Town Clerk Frances Coxe, who worked with Bollinger for eight years. “She will be missed very much by the community. There are many many people whose lives were touched by her, and even during those last days, she was constantly remembering the people in her church family, and the people she worked with all the many years. That’s all she had to hold onto, were her memories.”
Bollinger, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease for about nine years, retired as mayor in November. Coxe said that before her retirement, the Town Council held meetings in Bollinger’s home.
“She would struggle all day to get her strength to have the meeting,” she said. “But we would gather around her dining room table and meet. In her situation her mind was so clear, that’s why we were able to continue with her guidance as the mayor. She was a very determined woman.”
The Rev. Bollinger and her husband, the Rev. Joseph Bollinger, moved from Dover, Pa., to the Rowland area in 1960. Before moving to North Carolina, the Bollingers were missionaries to Rayhnam, making many trips to deliver food and clothing.
In 1966, the Bollingers established the Raynham Indian Assembly Church, which is now the Harvest Church of the Assemblies. Phyllis Bollinger served as pastor, with her husband as associate pastor, until they retired in 1999. The same year she retired, Bollinger received the state’s Long Leaf Pine award for her service as pastor.
During their time at the church, the Bollingers also made mission trips throughout the state to deliver food, clothing and blankets to victims of hurricanes and floods.
“Even when she was on a walker, she still attended different churches,” Coxe said. “As long as she was able, she was in church.”
Coxe recalled Bollinger’s efforts when her two grandsons were deployed to Iraq.
“She sent them care packages constantly and sent enough to share with their division,” she said. “She always sent a huge box for them so they could give to the other soldiers, and she requested constant prayer for them. Every prayer she would say, she would remember the troops, even when they were back. I think her prayers are what kept them safe.”
Bollinger is survived by her husband, a son, Joseph “Joey” Bollinger Jr., a daughter-in-law, Alicia, and three grandsons.
“She was a very devoted wife and grandmother,” Coxe said. “We, as a town, are going to miss her a lot.”
A visitation will be held tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at Floyd Mortuary in Lumberton. The funeral services will be held on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Faith Baptist Church on N.C. 710.
— Staff writer Tess Hollis can be reached at (910) 272-6146 or by e-mail at email@example.com.