Mary Jane Dockery, the founder of Blandford Nature Center, has passed away at the age of 93.

Her death was reported on a Facebook post from Blandford Nature Center this morning...

Mary Jane began working for the Grand Rapids Public Museum in 1949 as a nature lecturer. Eventually, she convinced the Blandford family to donate 17 acres to the museum for the development of a nature center, and she became the curator. In 1965, the Museum Association helped seek the funds necessary for building a visitor center, which opened in 1968.

Mary Jane received numerous awards over the years, including the Michigan Audubon Society Outstanding Member Award. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. She also received the inaugural Association of Nature Center Administrators’ President’s Award for exemplary leadership in the Nature and Environmental Learning Center Profession. The Mary Jane Dockeray Scholarship fund has been established at Grand Valley State University to recognize outstanding high school seniors planning on science careers.

Mary Jane spent almost all of her time at Blandford. I don't think there was ever a time when I visited that she wasn't there. And what a wonderful woman. She always had, or made time to chat with you and answer any questions you might have about the nature center.

Funeral arrangements are pending. There will be a community celebration at Blandford Nature Center at the appropriate time in the future.Mary Jane has asked that donations be made to the Mary Jane Dockeray Endowment at Blandford Nature Center. Please indicate that your gift is in memory of Mary Jane Dockeray.

Read more about Blandford Nature Center and their history on their website.