Mary Ann Milligan dies at the age of 61, Mary was a model for success as a single mother.

Rearing her son alone, Mary Ann Milligan became the mother she never had.

Her own mother died when she was 9, and Ms. Milligan was reared by a series of relatives, mostly in Red Oak, said her son, Shaun Milligan of Newnan.

After her divorce, Ms. Milligan forged a career, attended college at night and took her son camping, whitewater rafting, on countless travels and to sports games, theater productions and museums.

She became the linchpin of single mothers she met at Parents Without Partners and McDonough Road Baptist Church. She shared many of her mother-son activities with them.

Ms. Milligan and her friends might take their children to every baseball card shop in San Francisco or just spend a weekend at her house, first with a crowd of single parents and children for a potluck supper and then with a thinned-out crowd overnight, said Patty Hutchins of Peachtree City.

Single mothers relied on Ms. Milligan for her sage advice and humorous outlook on life’s trials, said her friend Lynn Webb of Goodyear, Ariz. Their children valued the outside perspective the vivacious redhead gave them.

“I give my daughter the mom answer, and Mary Ann gave her the truth,” Ms. Webb said.

“She was always laughing. If we had trouble in life, she would make it funny. She said you hadn’t lived until you had many stories to tell. She could make anything funny,” she said.

The memorial service for Mary Ann McIntyre Milligan, 61, of Newnan is 7 p.m. today at McDonough Road Baptist Church. She died at Piedmont-Fayette Hospital May 3 of complications from breast cancer treatment. The body was cremated.

Carl. J. Mowell and Son Funeral Home, Fayetteville, is in charge of arrangements.

Ms. Milligan joined International Paper in 1971, coordinating inside sales. After earning her degree from Georgia State University, she still had to lobby for a position in outside sales, said her colleague Dot Moseley of Blairsville.

“It definitely was a man’s world. We had only two women in outside sales,” Mrs. Moseley said. “I’m telling you, she was an excellent salesman, top-notch.”

For a time, she added teaching English as a Second Language at Clayton State University to her full-time job and full-time parent responsibilities.

“Mary Ann liked helping people who wanted to help themselves,” Ms. Webb said.

She found a doctor to aid one student who had difficulty seeing and incorporated the cultures of her students into her teaching.

Ms. Milligan read on average a book a day, was an accomplished seamstress and volunteered as an usher with the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

After retiring from sales, she operated her own paper products company, worked in airline reservations and traveled Europe with her son.

“She was vivacious,” Ms. Webb said. “Everything was fun; everything was an adventure.”

It wasn’t always so, she said. “Her life didn’t start out real easy. She worked hard and provided well for her son.”

Mothers and their children learned from her example and life stories, Ms. Webb said.

“To my children, she gave them a totally different perspective on life. She was one of those people who made children think of possibilities.”

Other survivors include a brother, Bill McIntyre of Bowdon; and a grandson.