In Memoriam

Counseling center psychologist Merris Hollingsworth passes away


9:42 a.m., Jan. 4, 2016--Merris Anthony Hollingsworth, senior psychologist in the University of Delaware Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD), passed away Dec. 17, after a 16-year fight against a rare cancer, adenoid cystic carcinoma. She was 54.

After receiving her doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Maryland-College Park, she joined the UD counseling center in 1999. She headed the intern program supervising doctoral candidates and was the recipient of the Outstanding Training Director Award for 2011 by the Section for Supervision and Training of the Society of Counseling Psychology of the American Psychological Association. During her years with the counseling center, Ms. Hollingsworth's wit and wisdom shaped many lives of those who passed through its doors.

Charles Beale, director of CCSD, said, ”Merris was the consummate counseling psychologist, role model and teacher for trainees and staff who learned from her daily. She was an absolute joy to work and to be with. Her sense of humor, joy of life and engaging demeanor will be missed. Her legacy will be the impact she had on the students whom she worked with and the trainees who will emulate her authenticity, her self-awareness and her healthy work ethic in their work as a psychologist.”

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1961, she graduated from Davidson College in 1983 and received a master's degree from Wake Forest.

According to her family, Ms. Hollingsworth 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 her wife, Mary Post, 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.

Ms. Hollingsworth was an active participant in churches wherever she happened to live, the most recent of which was Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware. In her affiliations she served as elder, Sunday school teacher and liturgist. She 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.

She is survived by her wife, Mary Post; her parents, Julianne Lunsford Hollingsworth and J. Hayden Hollingsworth; 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.

A celebration of her life and faith will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1502 West 13th St., Wilmington, Delaware.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Delaware Hospice or a charity of one's choice. In further celebration of her spirit, the family requests that individuals perform random acts of kindness as Ms. Hollingswoth so often did.

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