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Mary Jane Pollack (1921-2022)


Posted By: Ken Wright (email)
Date: 8/28/2022 at 11:36:10

Mary Jane Pollack (Rivkin, Bookey) passed away on August 21st, 2022 at the age of 101 at her home in Chicago. She leaves a legacy of elegance, strength, philanthropy, and accomplishments for which she will be dearly missed.

Mary Jane was born and grew up in Davenport, Iowa as the daughter of Sam and Florence Rivkin and sister of William and Donald Rivkin. She and her brothers were first generation Americans, with her father immigrating from Eastern Europe in the early 1900’s. She attended the University of Iowa and was a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority. It was at the University that she met Lester Bookey who became her husband for over 30 years, and father of their three children, until his death in 1975. She later married Bernard Pollack and moved to Chicago where she remained until her death.

Mary Jane was an active and dedicated community member of the cities in which she lived. As a member of the Central National Bank Board of Trustees she became the first woman to serve in such a capacity on a bank board in Iowa. A lifelong patron of the arts, she was a founding member of the Des Moines Performing Arts (formally Des Moines Civic Center) Board of Trustees as well as a member of the Board of the Des Moines Playhouse. She loved to act and played multiple roles including the lead as Mame in Auntie Mame and a lead role in Plaza Suite. Because of her affiliation with the Playhouse, the Hollywood Director Norman Lear engaged her as the local casting director for the movie Cold Turkey which was filmed in Iowa.

In Chicago, Mary Jane volunteered with various organizations including WITS (Working in the Schools) and served on the board of the Sustaining Fellows at the Art Institute well into her 90s. Additionally, she spent her winters in Florida where she served on the Board of Trustees of the Boca Raton Museum.

Mary Jane enjoyed life fully, dining out with her many friends, traveling the world, reading countless books, and going to the theater. A proud Democrat, Mary Jane read the newspaper every day, kept up with current events,and volunteered on many campaigns. She was a frequent phone-banker for the Obama presidential campaign in 2008 and loved visiting the Chicago headquarters.
Mary Jane was a true matriarch who showered those around her with unconditional love and generosity. Mary Jane (beloved “Honey” or “Nonny” to all who knew her) relished spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren and spent hours with them at the beach, watching boats on Lake Michigan, and baking her famous brownies.

Mary Jane was preceded in death by husbands Lester Bookey and Bernard Pollack.

She is survived by three children Tom Bookey, Harry Bookey (Pamela) and Barbara Melcher (Richard), nine grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren, and her step-daughter Jeanie Pollack (Fred Lane). Her family is extraordinarily grateful to the caretakers - especially Inez Scott - who provided wonderful comfort and friendship to Mary Jane.

A celebration of her life is being planned in Chicago in the fall, details will be available soon. In lieu of flowers, we ask that contributions be made to the Des Moines Art Center or the Des Moines Playhouse.


Scott Obituaries maintained by Lynn McCleary.
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