Merris Anthony Hollingsworth ’83

Merris Anthony Hollingsworth '83On Thursday, December 17, 2015 Merris Anthony Hollingsworth, of Ronaoke, passed away as a result of a 16 year fight against the rare cancer, adenoid cystic carcinoma. She was born August 25, 1961 in Atlanta, Ga. to Julianne Lunsford Hollingsworth and J. Hayden Hollingsworth. She was soon followed by younger sisters Betsy and Jennifer.

After graduating from Davidson College in 1983, she received an M.A. from Wake Forest and her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland-College Park. During her years in N.C, Merris met the love of her life, Mary Post who became her wife in April 1995.

Upon receiving her doctorate in counseling psychology, Merris joined the staff at the University of Delaware Counseling Center where she spent the next sixteen years treating clients and generally livening the offices with her buoyant spirit. Additionally, she headed the intern program supervising doctoral candidates and was named Director of the Year by the American Psychological Association.

During her years with The Counseling Center Merris’ wit and wisdom shaped many, many lives of those who passed through the doors.Merris received and rejoiced in the gifts each day presented to her. She adored spending time with family, whether that was visiting Michigan and Walloon Lake with Mary, hiking with her mother, walking at Litchfield Beach with family, or simply enjoying holidays with the people she loved.

Devoted to her nieces and nephews, she took great joy in planning special activities from blowing spectacularly large soap bubbles, creating origami creatures to decorating cookies, playing games and, in the process, creating wonderful memories. A talented seamstress, she also created heirloom quilts for each niece, nephew, two great nieces, a great nephew and her mother. She nearly always had a knitting project in progress for herself or someone else and is credited with infecting her co-workers with the knitting bug.

Merris was an active participant in churches wherever she happened to live, the most recent of which was Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Del.

In her affiliations she served as elder Sunday school teacher and liturgist. Whether it involved serving on the session or pastoral nominating committee, she never hesitated to assist where she could. Merris taught Sunday school, led the Children’s Time during Sunday service and recently helped to make and decorate 2,000 Christmas cookies to brighten the holidays for those in need.

With her profound love of animals, Merris pictured herself as a redwing blackbird whose greatest beauty is hidden until it takes flight. Dogs, cats and horses filled her life with excitement, joy and much laughter. A recently planted butterfly garden brightened her back yard and winged visitors to her plants always thrilled her.As an avid reader, Merris devoured the works of Mary Oliver, John O’Donohue, C.S. Lewis and Richard Rohr.Along with her beloved and devoted wife, Mary Post.

Merris is survived by her parents, Julianne Lunsford Hollingsworth and J.Hayden Hollingsworth; and father-in-law John Post; her sister, Betsy Lee and brother-in-law Lai Lee and their children Cassandra (Ryan), Christine (Michael), Katie and Maggie; sister, Jennifer and brother-in-law Holton and their children Declan and Connor; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Steve and Jane Post and their daughters, Stephanie (Ben) and Justine (Andrew); grandnieces and nephews, Ollie, Joseph, Merris, Edison, Alma, Clara and many beloved friends and colleagues.

Each time she entered a room, one felt her joy and gentleness of spirit. She also possessed a dogged determination and a very polite, but profound streak of stubbornness. Merris often found humor in her struggles when others would fall into despondency. Regardless of any discomfort or fear, Merris remained fully engaged with life and refused to complain.

In defiance of her disease, Merris radiated joy and deep faith, she danced through life with jubilant feet.At 11 a.m. on Wednesday January 6, 2016 we celebrate Merris’ life and faith at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Delaware Hospice ( or a charity of your choice.

In further celebration of her spirit, the family requests you perform random acts of kindness as she so often did.