June 21, 2010
Lt. Col. Margaret A. Hollinger (Ret.), MHA '57, recently celebrated her 100th birthday in Seattle with family and friends. Hollinger was born June 4, 1910, in Gladstone, N.D., the oldest of 10 children born to German-Hungarian immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school and college. She received her diploma from Gladstone High School in 1932 after having had to drop out of school for several years during the Great Depression to help support her family. Hollinger became a registered nurse in 1935, then served in the Army Nurse Corps between 1935-37. She then did private duty nursing in Montana and California before rejoining at the start of World War II.
During WWII she volunteered to serve in Europe as a surgical nurse with the 120th Evac, a mobile field hospital on the frontlines in Western Europe, where she aided Buchenwald concentration camp survivors. Hollinger was once caught behind enemy lines for several days after going into the field to assist a wounded soldier.
She left the Army after WWII to attend the University of Washington, and then joined again in 1950 after graduation. She retired in 1963 after 28 years of service.
Beginning in 1950 she served in Korea as well as stateside. She rose through the ranks to retire as a Lt. Colonel and Chief Nurse of the Fourth Army, the second highest-ranking nurse in the Army Nurse Corps. She later worked as a hospital administrator in Oregon, for Washington state's Department of Social and Health Resources, and, while in her 80s, assisted her sister in running a ranch in Idaho.
During the week of her birthday, Hollinger received recognition from President Barack Obama, Washington Senator Patty Murray, Montana Senator Max Baucus, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, and Baylor Interim President David E. Garland, among others. Major General Patricia D. Horoho, Chief Nurse of the U.S. Army, sent a delegation of Army nurses with a commemorative medallion and a handmade quilt. Willard Scott also wished her a Happy Birthday during NBC's "Today Show" birthday segment.
In recognition of her care of Buchenwald survivors, Hollinger received congratulations from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres, as well as the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel.
Hollinger also was recognized during a gathering of residents of the Caroline Kline Galland Home in Seattle that focused on her service to survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp. The event was especially touching because several of the residents had relatives at Buchenwald or other camps. Hollinger was accepted as a resident of the home three years ago after being declared a "Righteous Gentile" in honor of her assistance to Holocaust survivors as a U.S. Army nurse.
Patricia Hollinger Conrard, her niece, says, "Margaret has had an inspirational life of achievement that has spanned a century. She has been a role model as an independent woman of great professional accomplishments during an era when most women did not pursue careers."