In memory of
September 6, 2011 Kay Holper dozed off in the company of loved ones and about 9:55 PM, at the age of 96, took her last breath. She is survived by daughters, Sue and Georje Holper, grandson Morgan Stetler, and nieces Cindy Johnson and Nancy Johnson. Born in Illinois October 26, 1914 to George Charles Johnson and Ethel Belle Baker, Catherine Lorraine Johnson spent her childhood in Joliet, her married years 1937-1979 with Frank Holper in Chicago and its suburbs, and her solitary years in Garberville, CA. At age four, wrapped in a blanket with her sister Marjorie, Catherine watched fireworks celebrating the winning of World War I. She later noted ironically that, despite "the war to end all wars," she had lived most of her life during active wartime. Opposing all forms of violence, Kay consistently took the side of the innocent and vulnerable, be it disadvantaged groups or individuals she met personally. She spoke scathingly of those who misused their power and gave her own time, energy and financial resources to candidates and organizations defending civil liberties, civil rights, women's freedom, and the natural environment. Taking civic responsibility seriously, Kay was instrumental in organizing a union, integrating a church, making "end racism by any means necessary" a YWCA priority, and mobilizing suburban women to support Martin Luther King's Chicago open housing campaign. She served on boards of metropolitan Chicago YWCA, Rape Crisis Team and Women for Shelter in Eureka, and Redwoods Rural Health Center in Redway, CA. Whatever Kay did, she took pains to do "the right way." She earned A's in school, hung pictures straight, matched colors to perfection, tailored her clothes to fit, dogged non-profit boards to function properly, and persisted at the computer until her personal writing was formatted to her liking. She was galled that a single speeding ticket marred her otherwise perfect driving record from age 13 into her 90s. At the end of her life Kay disposed of possessions and set her affairs in order as diligently as she had packed her motor home to embark on a solo adventure. Kay invoked the scientific method, challenged false authority, and relished winning her point. At seven she experimented saying aloud, "I hate God," to see if He would "strike her down dead" as she'd been warned. She henceforth confronted any authority whose position she considered wrong, be it elder sister, college professor, boss, doctor, Mayor Daley, or renowned nuclear physicist. Kay loved adventure, naming Amelia Earhart her first hero. Growing up in an era when no women wore pants, Kate and her best friend bought farmer's overalls and boyscout boots (with a knife pocket!) to wear exploring. Though she never became a forest ranger as she had dreamed, Kay hiked mountain trails, canoed and rafted various rivers, went down the Colorado in a wooden boat, and boasted walking ocean beaches on four continents. In her seventies and eighties she drove alone across the continent, up and down the Pacific coast and through Death Valley where she "had to build a road under the camper to get out." When her legs gave out, she gathered together letters, journals, dreams, poems and polemics and embarked on the adventure of deeply knowing herself and her times; she entrusted to her friend Nancy Jean Keeler the compiled results. Kay Holper was humanitarian, perfectionist, trouble-maker, adventurer. Her longtime friend Rick Klein reports, "People's response hearing about Kay's death is, 'What a courageous, wonderful woman!'" Congruent with Kay's wish to give back to community and remember Heart of the Redwoods Community Hospice, her daughters are making a gift to that organization in her memory. Expect a celebration of Kay's life when wisteria blooms in May or in early September around the anniversary of her death. Direct questions to Sue at (209) 754-5518 or email@example.com. Please sign the guest book at www.Times-Standard.com , click obits.
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