OBITUARY

Mary Ann Blair Pollei

May 29, 1944August 13, 2021

Mary Ann Blair Pollei was born May 29, 1944, the second of 4 children born to Elsa Olga Morf and Seth Millington Blair. A self-described skinny, funny-looking kid, with asthma, her childhood was spent barefoot, with her older sister Ida and her younger brothers Brent and Paul, exploring the irrigation canals around their home and playing with crawdads, tadpoles, lizards, snakes, toads and anything else they could catch.

After graduation from Yuma Union High School (“Proud home of the Criminals”), she made her way to Brigham Young University. She graduated from BYU with a degree in Speech Pathology, and after graduation she married David Cannon Pollei in the Mesa Arizona Temple in 1969. A couple of years later they ended up in Kansas City, where they started their family, welcoming Amy and Jennifer. A stint in Chicago added Stephanie, and then a move to New York brought James and Michael.

Not only did she round out her family in New York, but she found a full group of friends that she remained close with her entire life. After 5 years in New York, a job opportunity pulled them to California, where Mary Ann rejoined the work force at UC Davis in the Intensive English Department, helping students from around the world work on their professional English skills. In Davis, Mary Ann became a substitute mother for many of the International students who were there to study and learn English. While in Davis, Mary Ann also experienced a life changing trial when her youngest son Michael was in a near drowning accident that left him handicapped and unable to care for himself. The accident had a profound effect on the whole family. She recalled a moment where she was seeking relief from the heartache of the experience in the Temple and she felt overcome with a feeling that the trial occurred to help the family grow, especially the kids.

After Michael passed away at age 12, and kids were all graduated, they moved to Utah. They built their dream house, an arts and crafts place with a spectacular view of the mountains. Here she happily embraced some of her favorite occupations: a consummate reader, serving in the church, and welcoming her 13 grandchildren into the world. After over a decade in Utah, Mary Ann and David would face another life changing trial with the cruelest April Fool’s Day joke ever. On April 1, 2011 Mary Ann suffered a stroke that left her trapped in a body she could not control. Like her son Michael, she lived the last ten years of her life being served by countless friends and members of her congregations. This service truly shifted the perspective of her life. In a talk scribed by her friend Lara and given by her Grandson Gunnar she said, “When you have a tragedy in your life and your life is stripped down to the bare essentials you see that most of that rushing and the things you thought were important don’t matter. What matters most is kindness. Life is simple: be kind. I have been the recipient of immense compassion since my stroke, not only from my family, but also from my ward members, my neighbors, and my friends. I cannot repay this kindness. This is a rare gift—a glimpse into heaven. I have been able to have a small understanding of the immensity of God’s infinite thoughtfulness and love for me.”

After 10 years of being trapped in her body she passed away at age 77 from renal failure. She was preceded in death by her father, mother, and son Michael. She is survived by her husband, David, her children Amy Palmer (Enoch), Jennifer Legas (Adam), Stephanie Blad (Ryan), and James Pollei and her 13 grandchildren, Ezra, Ada, Tenney, and Minerva Palmer, Gunnar, Cooper, Mia, and Kes Legas, Luke, Brinley, Addie, and Milo Blad and Vivian Saffian.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, August 28 at the Riverwoods Ward Chapel, 4775 N. 300 W., Provo, Utah 84604 and a viewing at the church from 9:30-10:45 a.m. Interment at Eastlawn Cemetary following the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name through to her gofundme page (https://gofund.me/360b70b4). Condolences may be sent to the family using the “Add a Memory” link on this page.

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Memories

Mary Ann Blair Pollei

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Cortney Nebeker

August 28, 2021

Marianne was my very favorite. She always snuck me treats and gave me the non-overwhelming hugs that just made you feel loved. I pretty much thought all of her kids were the coolest people I had ever met. When we got together they would all play Nertz but I was too little to join and didn’t know how to play so I would always just stand behind and watch. One day she spotted me and for the next few days she taught me how to play which took quite awhile but I was so proud I could join in thanks to her. I remember once staying at the Pollei’s house in California and everyone was swimming but I came inside and I remember she made me some food and then just sat at the table with me and wanted to know about what I liked those days and she really listened. She also did some pretty amazing braids in my hair from time to time but I just liked being around her. Mostly she was just a person who everyone wanted to be around. She had a constant warmth and her sparkly eyes always made you feel special. Love you Marianne and all the Pollei’s!

Debbie Woodward

August 23, 2021

Roy, Becky, Mary and I knew the Pollei family in Davis CA. They were so wonderful to our young family, I cannot even put into words how good they were to us. They opened their beautiful home and “ fun” yard with swimming pool and trampoline with open arms. Mary Ann was truly amazing. She taught me how to quickly cut a watermelon, and I continue to do it that way to this day. Her delicious crepes were a culinary revelation to me and I cannot yet make them as good as she did. She was the epitome of selflessness, style, optimism and strong, strong faith. Her resilience and loving care of Michael was truly inspiring. I will never forget her.

Les Tolchin

August 23, 2021

David, I'm so sorry to read about the passing of your beloved Mary Ann. My deepest sympathies to you and all the members of your family. May her memory be a blessing.

Les Tolchin

Mary Jean Slater

August 20, 2021

David and family,
Love, prayers, and happy memories are with you all.
Aloha,
Mary Jean

Allyson Hagen

August 19, 2021

Mary Ann was like a second mother to me growing up. I think I spent more time at her house than I did at my own. She was so stylish and sophisticated and created a beautiful home. She always had a smile on her face and I always felt welcome in her home. Watching her serve her family, and especially Michael after his accident, taught me so much about selflessness. She was the epitome of grace in times of stress. She was my Mom's best friend and I will never forget how much work she put into helping my Mom with my wedding reception. I had a beautiful reception thanks to her help. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for her.

Eugenio Pedreño

August 19, 2021

Beautiful angel Mary Ann. I hope your trip to God’s heaven is calm and easy as you made my life during the time that I was gifted living with you and your family. Happy endless life in God’s heart. You will remain in mine forever. 😔

Megan De Paoli

August 19, 2021

Oh how I loved Sister Pollei!I didn’t realize until reading her obituary that the Polleis were only in New York for five years. We all got very close in a short time. 💕 She always had the most beautiful smile and I feel like she found laughter and joy in absolutely everything. Sending huge hugs to her family. xoxo

Nadine Pinkerton

August 19, 2021

I have such wonderful memories of this elegant and serene lady and of the whole Pollei family when they were in Davis. They were the epitome of love and grace as they went through the trial of the near loss and residual struggles of Michael. No doubt Mary Ann and Dave responded to her stroke in a like manner. Reading the life lessons she was able to take from that challenge was so inspiring. May the whole family be blessed with peace and comfort at this time. Sending love from the Pinkerton family.

Margaret Tueller

August 19, 2021

Mary Ann is such a wonderful woman. I have only felt love from her. I think of her as I make bread, read a good book, and serve others. She is definitely unforgettable! She would always welcome and share. Anyone who got any time with her is definitely blessed. And her family has been so good to her, such an example of Christlike love.

Anna-Marie Bass

August 18, 2021

I had the privilege of serving as a visiting teaching companion with Mary Ann. She taught me the meaning of service. She was a strong woman and an obvious leader, yet she made me feel like her equal and sought my insights.

I really enjoyed the small amount of time I got to serve with her. Obviously she had a great impact on me.

FROM THE FAMILY