Cover photo for Marylyn Collins Ponder's Obituary

Marylyn Collins Ponder

October 18, 1953 — May 20, 2022

Olmito, Texas

Marylyn Collins Ponder

OLMITO, TX. – Marylyn Collins Ponder, beloved teacher, devoted friend, mother, and grandmother, passed on from this earthly experience on Friday, the 20th of May 2022, surrounded by loved ones.

Those who knew her well would say she was devoted to her community, to education, to children, to seeking the Truth, and to growing gardens full of butterflies and birds. Marylyn was born in Brownsville, daughter of the late Courtenay Collins and Tom Collins. After graduating with the Brownsville High School Class of 1971, she went on to earn a degree in journalism from The University of Houston. After her two children were born, she returned to Brownsville to join her mother in running the family business, Sunnyside Day School, a pillar of early childhood education in Brownsville. Marylyn brought her joyful attitude, her love of children and her talent for making them smile, and her creativity in the classroom to Sunnyside and helped make it a home-away-from-home for so many children throughout the 80s and 90s. Marylyn also directed the Sunnyside Swim Program every summer for 25 years from 1981 until 2005. From 1991 until 2013, Marylyn owned a franchise of Kumon Math and Reading, Inc. where she coached children of all ages, helping them reach their academic potential. Marylyn eventually developed her own math and reading curriculum, which allowed her to open Ponder Math and Reading in 2013. She continued working with children from all over the Valley until her retirement in 2020.  Marylyn spent many years as a leader in her church, an organist for Sunday worship services, and a volunteer librarian at the Christian Science Reading Room. She designed and built butterfly gardens for schools and scouts, and she became a Texas Master Naturalist through extensive volunteer service in outdoor spaces such as the Sabal Palm Sanctuary. She organized public lectures, helped army recruits pass their aptitude tests, and supported local artists, even maintaining a small gallery for displaying their work from 2009 to 2013.

Marylyn, who was lovingly known as “Ms. Ponder,” was loved by children, parents, families, and friends all over Brownsville, and her own children and grandchildren will miss her dearly.

Survivors include her daughter and son, Desi Ponder Donaldson and Cliff Ponder; her son-in-law, Craig Donaldson; her daughter-in-law, Michelle Ponder; her sister, Janet Malan; her brother Tommy Collins Jr.; and her five grandchildren, Bennett, Brandon, Brooks, Serenity, and Éliette.

A Celebration of Life event will be held at one o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, the 12th of June 2022 at the Brownsville Events Center, 1 Event Center Boulevard, Brownsville, Texas 78526.

In lieu of floral arrangements and customary remembrances, donations can be made in her name to ”Cameron County Master Gardener Association” for the purpose of planting Sabal Palms and other native trees in her honor. Checks can be offered at the reception or mailed directly to:  Cameron County Master Gardener Association, 1390 W. Expressway 83, San Benito, Texas 78586.

Memories of Marylyn can be shared at

Local funeral arrangements directed by Steven R. Hieu Bailey and Staff were entrusted to the care of Darling-Mouser Funeral Home at 945 Palm Boulevard in Brownsville, Texas 78520, (956) 546-7111.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Marylyn Collins Ponder, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life Event

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Starts at 1:00 pm

Brownsville Events Center

, Brownsville, TX 78521

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Private Committal Service

Darling-Mouser Funeral Home


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