Holly (Ehrich) Henderson ’63

31 October 2016

Class: 1963

Deceased: September 6, 2016

An obituary from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser 

“No matter how imaginative you are, you could never imagine a better life than fate provides. You know? I couldn’t have planned a path like I’ve had, and I’m so grateful that I didn’t try.”  

Holly Henderson was born in Stillwater, New York, the child of two archaeologists, Ann Hoskin and Robert Ehrich, who met on an excavation in Turkey. Holly was born on December 4, 1941. She was determined to be a writer, and was encouraged by parents who wanted their children to be who they are. Holly so appreciated their insight. She loved to read, but hated most of her schooling. Her social justice nature had early roots in rejecting an elitist education. Holly went to Carleton College in Minnesota and then transferred to New York University.  

Post graduation, Holly hit the ground running as a writer with an entry-level job in a “secretarial pool.” One week later, her love of opera helped get her promoted to an executive secretary when she recognized a Puccini opera playing in her boss’s office. Refining her writing skills and social commentary continued with the help of a mentor forty years her senior. The two of them were rebel-rousing colleagues, and Holly found that writing gave her passions a voice.  

Holly made her way to Hawai’i in 1977 after the passing of her husband. His death allowed for traveling that took her to the Coco Palms Hotel on Kaua’i, and into the world of the magical Grace Guslander. Grace welcomed Holly as family and Holly felt the embrace of people and place. She decided that if she lived in Hawai’i, she was sure to be a nicer person. Holly had a deep respect and appreciation for the Hawaiian culture. Throughout her forty years in Hawai’i, she considered it a privilege and a joy to live here. She was keenly aware of her status as a “guest” of the Hawaiian people, and was tireless in her efforts to acknowledge her “hosts” and to support Hawaiians’ quest for self determination. Her time in Hawai’i was dedicated to the not-for-profit community. She worked tirelessly assisting agencies with organizational development services, training, facilitation, team-building and other support programs. She helped develop the Weinberg Fellows Program, training hundreds of leaders of not-for-profits and the Castle Colleagues Program, which focused on training early education leaders.  

Holly was a character. That’s the truth of it. If you knew her, you would know of her sharp wit and keen observation. Life was always more robust through Holly’s eyes. Holly made frequent trips to Las Vegas, and truly exemplifies the expression “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” Her Honolulu friends had no clue what she did there, but we suspect, or like to imagine, that it involved her love of stand up comedy. Holly deeply loved cats, and everything feline related. Cats were her family. Her beloved Moxie and Silver bells passed before her death. Holly also loved holidays of every shape and size, they offered her year-round opportunities to celebrate. She was an avid gift giver, and a professional online shopper, with packages arriving daily to her residence in Makiki. Holly was an expressive writer who searched the internet for the most diabolical, and entertaining cards. Her handwritten letters were always keepsakes.  

Holly is survived by her sister Judy, her hanai family, the Brodericks, many close friends and spheres of influence in community. She leaves a legacy of deep care for the people of Hawai’i, and in particular the Hawaiian people, whom she acknowledged as the teachers of “what is most precious in these islands–the values which enable us to love each other.” Holly died in her home on September 6, 2016 at age 74. Her life will be celebrated with great joy, laughter and merriment at her Happy-Holly-Day Party on Saturday, October 29th from 4P – 7P at the Kewalo Basin Harbor’s Net Shed. In Holly’s own words “ I don’t want people to come unless they loved and/or respected me no bad vibes or hypocrisy at my last party!” To RSVP. please email HappyHollyDay808@gmail.com. Donations in her honor can be made to Hawaii Literacy, Love a Cat Charity, or Hawai’i People’s Fund.

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