Polly Plummer Mackie, 83, a U.S. foreign affairs officer in the early 1950s and later an active volunteer at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, died of dementia on Saturday, Nov. 27, at Beaumont at Bryn Mawr, a retirement community.

Mrs. Mackie, a longtime Main Line resident, put her training to work as a foreign affairs officer at a time when few women worked in that specialty, her family said.

She was born in Mexia, Texas, and raised in Winnetka, Ill., graduating from North Shore Country Day School in 1945.

She earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from Sweet Briar College in Virginia in 1949, and did postgraduate work in the same field at the Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the early 1950s, Mrs. Mackie worked for the State Department as a foreign affairs officer on the Afghanistan/Ceylon/Nepal desk. She recruited technical advisers from private industry and agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Mines to go to the aid of the three countries.

She worked in 1953 with then-State Department official Harold E. Stassen to carry out the "Point Four Program" begun in 1949 by President Harry S. Truman, said her daughter, Allison. The effort sent foreign aid and technical assistance to developing nations.

Mrs. Mackie resigned on May 29, 1953, to marry Julius A. Mackie Jr., a resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The two met through a college friend. He became a prominent surgeon, scholar, and teacher. The couple divorced in 1985; he died of cancer in 2003.

Dr. and Mrs. Mackie settled in Bryn Mawr. While raising two children, Mrs. Mackie launched her work as a volunteer, her daughter said.

In 1966, she served as assistant to the chairman of the Department of Biblical Archaeology at the University Museum. For 18 months, she studied at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Anthropology, her daughter said.

From 1978 to 1988, Mrs. Mackie served as volunteer vice chairman of the Women's Committee for the University Museum. As head of long-range planning, she traveled worldwide. She also helped catalog artifacts in the museum's collection.

Mrs. Mackie was a 50-year member of the choir at the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr. She helped establish the church's African Children's Mission and traveled to Malawi in her 70s on behalf of the project.

Mrs. Mackie instilled her love of reading in her daughter. "She sent me a box of books every month of my life until I was in my 40s, and it took," Allison Mackie said.

Surviving, in addition to her daughter, are a son, Alex; a brother; four grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Church of the Redeemer, 230 Pennswood Rd., Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010.

Memorial donations may be made to the African Children's Mission in care of the church.

Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com

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