Dr. Mollie Whalen, distinguished professor emeritus of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, died on May 24 at her home in San Diego, Calif. She was 74.

She grew up in southern California and attended University of California Berkeley in 1965. She took a hiatus from her academic goals to have children but knew she would return when her children began their educations. She moved from California to New York in 1968, and from New York to East Stroudsburg, Pa. in 1972.

She returned to academia at East Stroudsburg State College (now East Stroudsburg University) and received her B.A. in psychology. She received her master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and her Ph.D. from New York University.

While pursuing her intellectual goals, she worked full time as a clinical psychologist and eventually as director of women’s resources for Monroe County, Pa., where she successfully expanded funding and programing to help and support women in more ways than ever before.

She was a scholar of psychology and women’s studies. She was appointed to the ESU faculty in 1992 and successfully expanded the women’s studies program, served as the Women’s Center director, and organized a chapter of Iota Iota Iota, the Women’s Studies honor society. She held many other roles throughout her time at ESU, including leading the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. She was named distinguished professor at ESU and was granted status as professor emeritus upon her retirement in 2013.

She authored the book Counseling to End Violence Against Women as well as journal articles related to counseling practices from a feminist perspective. She was selected as a representative of the Association for Women in Psychology to participation in the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women.

Mollie spent her career lifting up women and helping them see their potential in a world that so often silenced them. She helped many find their voice and strengthened their commitment to advocacy and justice.

In 1975, while playing bridge in East Stroudsburg, Mollie met Joseph Ashcroft. He would become her life partner and husband. Their mutual interests and views formed the foundation for a relationship built on love. Mollie and Joe started summering on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 1980s and purchased their home in 1984. After they retired in 2013, the Vineyard became their permanent home. They wintered in San Diego.

One of her favorite things to do with Joe was play competitive bridge. They traveled nationally and regionally to play and earned life master status in the American Contract Bridge League. They enjoyed their participation in bridge clubs on Martha’s Vineyard. In an article published in the Gazette many years ago, Jim Kaplan referred to the pair as the “bridge demons of Martha’s Vineyard.” Through playing bridge, they were established a network of close friendships on the Vineyard.

After Joe’s death in 2016, Mollie continued playing bridge and cultivating close friendships with people on the Vineyard, in San Diego and in East Stroudsburg. She participated in daily exercise classes with her friends, went on walks, read and, most recently, enjoyed playing mahjong. Over the past few years, she traveled with friends across the United States and to other countries. She was an avid supporter of the arts and particularly enjoyed the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse and The Yard.

She is survived by her daughters Erin Nicole and Kelly Peterson, who were both able to be with her during her final months; her grandchildren Chelsea Varkonyi, Troy Verway, Ty Verway and Walter Malsch; and her siblings Shannon Whalen, Erin Ellis Whalen, Bud Whalen and Richard Townsend. She was predeceased by her life partner, Joseph Ashcroft, parents Harvey Whalen and Marion Townsend, and her sibling John Townsend.

Memorial donations can be made to Planned Parenthood or another reputable nonprofit organization fighting to preserve women’s reproductive rights and access to reproductive health.