NEW LONDON, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas woman who dedicated most of her life and all of her time to her community has passed away.
Mollie Ward, who was once the mayor of New London, died this morning at the age of 86. Listing all of Mollie's accomplishments is nearly impossible. There are many things that Mollie will always be remembered for--- including starting the New London Museum, which honors the victims and survivors of the New London School explosion.
In 1937, when the explosion occurred, Mollie Ward became a survivor. She used her life, which was spared, to make sure her classmates that were killed in the explosion would never be forgotten.
"Mollie was on one of the buses when the school blew up. She graduated in 1944, so she was part of that group that continued on at London and graduated. It was always in her that something special needed to be done,' says Mike Tolbert.
Tolbert is now the director of the New London Museum. He took over after Mollie stepped down nearly 10 years ago. But still, people come through the doors asking for her by name.
"Without her, we would not have the museum and without the museum the story would not be told. We try to, you know, keep alive the memory of the day a generation died," Tolbert says.
He explains, Mollie collected mementos from the explosion and when the opportunity presented itself, she and some dedicated volunteers started the small museum that grew.
"Mollie's idea was, and I guess it goes with last week's news in fact that, Mollie had a dream. Her dream was to have a museum that was dedicated to the memory of the students who were lost," he says.
Mollie also served as mayor of New London for eight years. At her retirement party in 2008, Mollie said she had no regrets in a life of service to her community.
"It has been a pleasure to serve you, and it has been the joy of my life,' Mollie said.
"When somebody comes in and says, 'Where's Mrs. Mollie? We say, well, she's looking after us..." says Tolbert.
Some say she's looking after the city, the museum and the people she loves, because after all, to many in the community, Mollie Ward was New London.
Mollie was awarded the Yellow Rose of Texas by Governor Rick Perry in 2004. She was also on the East Texas Council of Governments for 19 years, received the Overton-New London Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award in 1993, the Walmart American Hometown Leadership Award in 1998, and Historical Tourism Builder Award in 2004.
Mollie is survived by many family members, including her daughters Jo Ann Jones and Judy Worthen.
Mollie Ward's funeral will at 10 a.m. this Thursday, September 5 at Cottle-Pearson Funeral Home in Overton.