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Marilyn M. Holloway
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Obituary for Marilyn M. Holloway

Marilyn Mott Holloway was born in Saint Ansgar, Iowa, on Nov. 15, 1925, to Robert Davenport Mott and Neva Cray Mott. She was the second of five children, three sisters and two brothers. The family moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1930. The trip was a momentous experience in more ways than one, as her brother Bob was born en route. In her late teens, Marilyn worked as a switchboard operator in Iowa City, lived alone for a while, and attended the University of Iowa, part time, for two years. In 1944, she moved with her family to Arcata, California, where she worked at the Navy’s Landing Aids Experiment Station in nearby McKinleyville. There, she met her future husband, John Holloway, who, after leaving the Navy in February 1946, worked at the station as a weatherman. For some time, Marilyn lived in Arcata with her family in a tent at a cooperative rabbit-raising farm. Then, on December 21, 1947, she and John travelled down to San Francisco to get married, returning to McKinleyville as newlyweds. They then lived for a while in a one-room apartment for personnel at the Station. In 1949, the couple moved to a new house in Pleasant Hill, California. Marilyn worked for a time at Bank of America and also at Tidewater Oil. In 1955, John, Marilyn and their new partner, Herb Freeman, started a drywall construction firm, Holloway and Freeman. The new company became a constant in their lives and provided them with a successful livelihood for the next thirty-five years. During the same period that Marilyn and John were getting established in the Bay Area, they also started a family, with Vance, born in 1953, and Bruce born in 1955. As a result, Marilyn had to juggle the full-time job of motherhood with the full-time job of treasurer, bookkeeper and office manager for Holloway and Freeman. She was up before daylight to get her children off to school. After working all day, she was back home, making dinner and getting her children into bed, and then retiring early herself, so she could repeat the same schedule the next day. Day after day, year after year, she accomplished this with a cheer and steadfast determination that were so typical of her personality. Marilyn and John retired in 1991. Widowed in 1999 at the age of 73, Marilyn quickly assumed an active role in Hillcrest Congregational Church, serving for a while as music director, volunteering regularly in the office, leading a long-lasting meditation group and sitting on the church council for many years. In fact, she was still volunteering with the church in 2016 at age 90. From the 1949 move to Pleasant Hill onward, Marilyn lived in the same house where she shared her life with John, where her two sons grew up, and where she lived on her own for the last 18 years. She was fiercely determined to remain independent, which she did, accepting only modest part-time home assistance in the last three years. Marilyn passed away at home with family by her side on August 16, 2017, at the age of 91. Marilyn will be remembered for many things. She had a ready, vivacious laugh and a positive, affirmative attitude towards life. She consistently poured out generosity to family, church and many other causes. Her abiding love and devotion for her spouse, children and grandchildren was unshakable. She had a keen mind for language, grammar and figures, and was assiduous at keeping accounts in her professional and personal records. After retirement, she was equally meticulous editing the church programs, council minutes and bulletins, occasionally to the chagrin of her colleagues. She loved music, particularly classical, especially opera, with a strong enthusiasm for coloratura soprano. She played clarinet in her youth, some piano later, sang light opera in Walnut Creek and took great pleasure in the music at Hillcrest Church. Marilyn was particularly adept at finding beauty in her daily life, not only in music, but in small things, like the striking color of autumn leaves, the particular hue of illuminated glass, the texture, sheen and shape of a rock, and the gracefulness of the many birds that regularly visited her patio. This desire and ability to find joy in nature and the little details of daily life were both a reflection of her temperament and also a self-conscious philosophical choice. She loved life and immediacy and she chose to embrace life with joy and vigor. Marilyn was also strong-willed and tenacious. She could be extremely stubborn and was a fierce competitor when she chose to be, such as for a game of Scrabble. These traits carried her far in life, as she spent many years living with chronic health issues, which multiplied and weighed ever more heavily on her in her final years. Marilyn is survived by her brother, Robert Mott, her two sons, Vance and Bruce Holloway, and four grandchildren: Aidan, Madeleine, Geoffrey and Corrina. A memorial service for her will be held on September 16, at 10 am, at Hillcrest Congregational Church, 404 Gregory Lane, in Pleasant Hill.

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Memorial Service




10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Hillcrest Congregational Church

404 Gregory Ln
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523


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