Mary Gale Collison

Mary Gale Collison

Adelaide, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada
Death 11 Aug 1970 (aged 77)
California, USA
Burial Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California, USA
Plot Sec 4 Tier 1 plot 27
Memorial ID 36586609 · View Source
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Universal House of Justice
The death of Mary Collison on August 11, 1970, brought to an end an enviable record of forty-six years of uninterrupted, indefatigable service, fifteen rich years of which were spent in the continent of Africa. The record of her accomplishments parallels the rise and development of the administrative order on the homefront in the United States, and matches the culminating international role the believers of the maturing North American community were increasingly called upon to play on foreign soil in fulfillment of the Master's cherished hope for them, echoed in the poignant entreaties of the Guardian. Mary Collison was born at Adelaide, Ontario, Canada on November 13, 1892 and was but nine years old when her family settled in New York State. Mary entered William Smith College at Geneva and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1914. For the next six years she taught in several high schools in the State of New York. In 1920 she married Reginald (Rex) Collison who served on the staff of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva, affiliated with Cornell University.

In 1924 the young couple first heard of the Baha'i Faith from Howard and Mabel Ives and, with seven others, declared acceptance and a Spiritual Assembly was formed. Group acceptance being an unusual development in that period, a flow of outstanding itinerant teachers visited the community bringing the benefit of their wisdom-Martha Root, Roy Wilhelm, Louis Gregory, Dorothy and Frank Baker, Horace Holley, May Maxwell, to name but a few. It was an auspicious beginning. "Mother" Beecher aided the group to achieve Assembly status and the Collisons felt a deep spiritual kinship with her. The role of Mary Collison was to pioneer in one way or another. She served on the first Outline Committee appointed by the National Assembly to prepare deepening study outlines on various subjects, relating them to the literature of the Faith. The first of these was "Science and the Baha'i Faith" prepared by Mr. Collison, and later many others followed. In 1928 the Collisons made a 17,000 mile teaching trip by automobile from coast to coast, across the Old Spanish Trail and back through the northern United States, visiting the widely scattered Baha'i communities and isolated believers. Perhaps it was this experience that inspired Mary to inaugurate a correspondence course designed to weld together and deepen the knowledge of far-flung believers, a project which she vigorously pursued during the 1930s.

She served on the National Teaching Committee and was a valued participant and teacher at Green Acre and Davison Baha'i Schools. When Mr. Collison retired in 1945 the family moved to the site of the Baha'i Summer School at Geyserville, California and made an important contribution to the programmes there. Between 1945 and 1952 Mary made a number of extensive trips through the western States, concentrating her attention upon the teaching work in Utah, Idaho and Montana. Then began another form of pioneering. In 1952, a year before the announcement of the Ten Year Crusade, the Collisons pioneered to Kampala, Uganda under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles. Here they served on the committee charged with the responsibility of supervising construction of the Mother Temple of Africa, prepared plans and supervised construction of the custodian's cottage on the Temple grounds, established a small nursery from which to draw shrubs and trees to landscape the Temple grounds and were members of the first Intercontinental Conference Committee in 1953, and the later committee in 1958 when the cornerstone of the Mashriqu'l-Askar was laid by the Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum.

In addition to assisting in the formation of the Spiritual Assembly of Kikaya Hill, where the Temple is built, Mary served as a member of the Publishing Trust established in Central and East Africa and helped mimeograph Baha'i literature in a number of African languages. But a fairer laurel was yet to be won. When the Ten Year Crusade was launched in 1953 the Collisons were the first American believers to arise. Accompanied by Mr. Dunduzu Chisiza, a young Nyasaland African who served as their interpreter and shared their home for over a year, they settled in Ruanda-Urundi. The trio were named Knights of Baha'u'llah by Shoghi Effendi. They served here for a year and a half until government policy required them to leave the country. Behind them in their adopted goal they left approximately twenty well-grounded Baha'is who became the foundation bedrock upon which the Faith developed throughout Ruanda Urundi and the eastern Congo.

The Collisons returned to Kampala in 1955 and were again custodians of the Baha'i Centre and later of the Mother Temple of Africa until 1966 when, for various reasons, it was deemed advisable to return to the United States. At home in Geyserville Mary served on the International Goals Committee for northern California and was a member of the Spiritual Assembly until her final illness. "Mary's passing just twenty days short of our fiftieth wedding anniversary ended her forty-six years of dedicated Baha'i activity," writes Mr. Collison, "and terminated our plans to pioneer in Jamaica." The passing of Mary Collison was marked by a memorial gathering in the Mother Temple of Africa and, learning of the passing of the mother of their community, the Baha'is of Ruanda-Urundi (now Burundi-Rwanda) cabled : PLEASE CONVEY REX COLLISON OUR DEEPEST GRIEF SYMPATHY LOSS DEAR MARY VALIANT KNIGHT BAHAULLAH BURUNDI RWANDA STOP THIS REGION WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER COLLISONS SERVICES PROMOTION FAITH.

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  • Maintained by: Connie
  • Originally Created by: Susan Faught
  • Added: 30 Apr 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 36586609
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Gale Collison (13 Nov 1892–11 Aug 1970), Find A Grave Memorial no. 36586609, citing Oak Mound Cemetery, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California, USA ; Maintained by Connie (contributor 47390019) .