Mary “Jean” Bolam

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Mary AnnaJean “Jean”, nee Tolman, Bolam, 103, of Belleville, IL, born June 20, 1918, in Macon, MO, to Minnie Evangeline Murphy and Charles Nathan Tolman, died Friday, September 17, 2021, at her residence.

Jean lived a full life for 103 years. She entered college at age 15, graduated from nursing school at 19, and worked as a hospital nurse in Topeka, KS for several years before she met her husband, William. They married July 14, 1940, and moved to Ottumwa, IA, where their five children were born. When their youngest turned five, she returned to work and continued her career until her retirement, as a medical social worker at the Department of Social Services of Wapello County in Ottumwa. After retirement, Jean moved to Sterling, IL, for three years and then resided in Belleville, IL, for her remaining time. She was well-known as a supporter of feminist causes and as a community organizer. Jean was a member of numerous organizations in Ottumwa, IA, including President of the Animal Relief League, vice president of the American Humane Society of Iowa, assisted in opening the Humane Society of Omaha, and served as the president of the Greater Association of Retarded Children. She opened and obtained grants and funding for the first shelter for battered women and abused children in her area. Jean also had a Saturday morning radio show where she read to children and spoke about animals from the Humane Society. She carried her passion for helping all living things, especially child advocacy throughout her entire life. Jean loved fiercely and will be dearly missed.

She is preceded in death by her parents; her husband, William F. Bolam; her brothers, Charles M. Tolman, Victor B. Tolman, and Ervin Gale; a daughter, Mary Ellen Bolam; a step-daughter, Betty Wier; and sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, Jack Wier Sr., Judie Bolam, Karen Bolam, Kent McNeill, and David Talignani.

She is survived by her children, Charles “Butch” Bolam of Playa Jaco, CR., Dr. David Bolam of Omaha NE, Sarah McNeill, and Anne Talignani of Clemson, SC; a sister-in-law, Peggy Tolman; as well as her beloved granddaughter and caregiver, Laura (Steve) Dima of Belleville, Il. She is also survived by her other grandchildren, Melissa Harrison, Matthew Bolam, Nathan (Erika) Bolam, Sandra (Michael) Jahn, Doug (Courtenay) Bolam, Rebecca (James) Bennett, Jason McNeill, and John Dylan McNeill; 20 great-grandchildren, three with whom she lived, – Joshua, Christopher, and Nathan Dima; 13 great-great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

Memorials may be made to Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Belleville, IL, the Belleville Area Humane Society, or to Family Hospice. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Visitation: Friends may visit from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Saturday, September 25, 2021, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL. Standard CDC guidelines, including masks and social distancing will be observed.

Funeral:  Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, September 24, 2021, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL.

Burial will be at a later date.



5 Comments on Mary “Jean” Bolam

Shirley Gansert Schultz said : Guest Report Sep 26, 2021 at 1:27 PM

Butch, Please accept my deepest sympathies on the loss of your mother. She was quite a lady. Shirley Gansert Schultz

  • Belleville
  • Illinois said : Guest Report Sep 23, 2021 at 8:49 PM

So sorry for the loss of such an accomplished woman. I am the daughter of Bill’s sister, Marie. We send our condolences to the Bolam,Weir and Tolman families

  • Buffalo
  • New York
Jack Smith said : Guest Report Sep 22, 2021 at 7:03 PM

So sorry to hear about the loss of your mother Sarah. Condolences & prayers fot you 🙏 & your entire family.

  • Papillion
  • NE
Robert "Bob" Bolam said : Guest Report Sep 22, 2021 at 12:00 PM

My condolence on the death of your Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother. I am a distant cousin who happens to maintain a Bolam Family Tree. I am 79 years old and would be interested to hear from someone about filling in some blanks in my tree. My telephone # is 585-287-1361. My Niece, who also lives in Rochester, received the OBIT through Face Book and passed it onto me. If someone contacts me, I will pass along my copy of the Bolam Family Tree for your review. Thanks for anything that you can do.' Bob

  • Rochester
  • NY said : Guest Report Sep 22, 2021 at 8:32 AM

Sorry for the loss of such a great women. Not aware of all her accomplishments! Truly amazing!❤️

  • Germantown
  • Il

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