1927 — 2021
Millie Bollback: Service, Compassion, and a Helpmate in Action
It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Mildred “Millie” (Winkler) Bollback into the presence of her dear Savior, Jesus Christ. Millie was a beloved mother, wife, and mentor to many.
Millie was born on September 29, 1927, to Milton and Dorothy Winkler in Bloomfield, New Jersey. She was the second daughter in a family of three girls, which included her older sister, Ruth, and her younger sister, Doris. Dorothy made sure that her daughters were in church every Sunday, and though Milton didn’t go to church often, he always made it possible for the girls to be there.
Through a dear childhood friend, Elaine Schawnaweed, Millie learned about her need for a Savior. Elaine’s mother brought the Winkler girls into her home and told them about Jesus– Ruth was the first to receive Him as her Savior, and she quickly began to pray for her sisters. At this time, the family also started attending First Baptist Church of Bloomfield. Russell Jones, the Pastor of First Baptist of Bloomfield, showed boundless love and dedication to the young people in his church– dedication that led him to invite a young evangelist, Percy Crawford, to preach at the church. Mr. Crawford, an evangelist who hosted a radio program and held a youth camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, shared the gospel during the meeting in a way Millie had never heard before. When he gave the invitation, she walked forward and made a decision for Christ. That special night, Millie’s life was forever changed.
A few years later, Millie attended a youth camp in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. It was there she dedicated her life in service to the Lord, feeling especially led toward missions. From then on, she planned to go to Bible School to prepare to serve her Savior. After high school, a friend who was working at the Word of Life office in New York City told Millie about a job opening for a receptionist. After an interview, she was offered the position, and in January 1946, she began work at Word of Life. In March of 1946, Millie met Harry Bollback, who had been the pianist for Jack Wyrtzen before World War II started. When he returned from active duty in the Marine Corps, it didn’t take long for them to begin to get to know one another.
However, Millie was a woman of integrity, and she wasn’t willing to compromise her decision to serve the Lord in missions for anything– even love. Unbeknownst to her, the Holy Spirit was already working in Harry’s heart. Later that year and independent of Millie, Harry decided that he was ready to fully dedicate his life to the Lord, no matter where He led. The two got engaged in 1947, and after a year at separate Bible Schools (in order to better focus on their studies), they were married on June 12, 1948. Millie’s beloved and influential pastor, Russell Jones, performed the ceremony. Harry and Millie were married for 72 years.
Harry and Millie made a great team– they were the best of friends, and their love for one another was evident to all who know them. Harry and Millie knew how God had gifted them and used those gifts to support and encourage one another in their pursuit of sharing the gospel with the nations. Throughout their time both on the field and in the US, Millie kept things together on the homefront while Harry traversed the jungles and traveled for Word of Life. Even while raising four children (Linda, Larry, Elizabeth, and Suely) often alone for significant periods of time– nothing was ever too much for her. She was always proud of her husband and continuously encouraged him to keep going for the Lord and never lose heart. Millie continued caring for and loving her children until the end of her life, and she was an incredible example of faith, love, and dedication to the calling of God to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
God called the Bollbacks to Brazil as missionaries, where they lived in many different situations from 1950 through 1969. From a simple home on the side of the river in the jungle to apartments surrounded by millions of people in major cities, Millie always made time for the people God brought into her life. The Lord blessed her with a heart big enough to love Him, her husband, her children, her church, and many others. God also gave her the ability to happily serve in ministry with Harry wherever He led them. Her special love for Christ and for others, as well as her heart for hospitality, were some of her greatest and most inspiring characteristics.
After returning from Brazil, Millie served alongside Harry as he became Co-director of Word of Life with Jack Wyrtzen. Millie was dearly loved by those who knew her and by her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, with whom she loved to spend time.
Harry put it like this in a song that he wrote for their 50th wedding anniversary:
It wasn’t easy living in my shadow,
You never tried to be the star.
You were happy to let me be the leader,
That has been your way right from the start.
So I’ve been the one with all the glory,
But you’ve always stood at my side,
You always made me stand taller,
Because I was your joy and your pride.
But did you know you’re everything I’ve ever wanted,
You’ve been the one with all the heart.
And no matter how it looks, you’re the star in my book,
You’ve been my life right from the start,
You’re in every chapter of my story,
You’re my wife, my friend, my heart.
Along with Harry, Millie is survived by her son, Larry and his wife Cindi, her daughter, Elizabeth and her husband John (Nelson), her youngest daughter, Suely and her husband Brad (Cecil), her son-in-law, Rick Warken, 11 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren. She joins her eldest daughter, Linda (Warken – 1949-2016) in the presence of her Savior.
When those near to Millie reflect upon her life, they’re drawn to three defining things about her character: her love for the Lord, her steadfast heart, and the warmth with which she welcomed friends, both new and old, into her home. It’s a joy to know she’s been welcomed Home with that same warmth and love.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Bollback Missionary Fund at Word of Life. Harry and Millie created this fund to bless and help missionaries around the world.
Memorial Service Information
The memorial service for Millie Bollback will be held at Mountainside Bible Chapel on Thursday, January 14 at 11:00 AM. The service will also be livestreamed at https://vimeo.com/event/597563.
Because seating will be extremely limited due to COVID-19 guidelines, guests are encouraged to view the service via the livestream link. For guests who attend, please note we will follow mandated safety protocols. We will be using a sign-up system – click the following link to register: https://reopen.church/r/rnhnVm99
Please also note that guests attending the service from noncontiguous states will be expected to abide by New York State travel guidelines. The link for these guidelines is: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory Out of state guests from noncontiguous states will be asked to provide evidence of a “negative” COVID-19 test in accordance to the guidelines.
The internment will be a private family event.
Millie was truly a wonderful Godly woman loved by many around the world. We are grateful for a life well lived. She will be greatly missed.
The Bollback family is very grateful for your prayers and expressions of love and concern.