Anita Mlynar Holt
November 14, 1920 - June 29, 2018
Here and now we take a moment to ponder the life of Anita Holt a 97-year-old
New England girl, Wife, Mother to 4, Grandmother to 6, Great Grandmother to 3,
Sister to 9, Aunt to 19, Friend to countless.
Born: 1920 in Ansonia, Connecticut of Ukrainian immigrants. Anita, who the
parents called Antosha, was their 10th and final live birth. Both parents had
passed-away by her age of 15. She then was cared for by her eldest brother and his
wife in the family home. Anita helped to care for her brother’s first two children
for the eight years she lived with them.
Ansonia High class of 1939. Good reader, good student, good intellect. After day
school she had to go to Russian school where she developed an affinity for
languages. She was particularly fond of French but after living in San Diego she
studied Spanish with her husband.
After high school she was a factory worker where she made ammo for the war
effort. Then at 23 she joined the Navy where she was detailed to an administrative
pool at the Department of Navy in Washington DC. When speaking of her tour in
DC she seemed most impressed by her meeting with General Charles De Gaulle.
In early 1945, when the Navy first allowed women to serve in foreign combat zones,
Anita applied for a transfer and was assigned to Hawaii's Naval Base Pearl Harbor.
Soon she shipped out by train from DC to San Francisco then boarded a ship to
Oahu. On the train she recalled learning of the death of President Franklin D
Anita’s shorthand and typing skills were top notch. In-fact she rose in rank to
Yeoman first class faster than any previous candidate had risen. With skills like
hers she was assigned to the Commander for her duration At Pearl.
After her naval service concluded she moved to Los Angeles where she worked as
an executive secretary at Alcoa Aluminum and eventually met Jimmy on a blind
date. Shortly thereafter they began their 71-year marriage. They raised a family in
Illinois for 22 years then moved to California for the remainder of her life.
As a Mother she was a strict disciplinarian but also loving. Anita was not a fan of
repeating herself. She chose her words carefully and used them sparingly. She had
facial expressions that often would substitute for words. She was deeply thoughtful
about her kids needs and where-and-how to provide guidance.
She had 2 basic types of discipline. Let’s call them type-A that she applied to obstinate
disagreeable behavior then type-B that pointed toward a character flaw.
Type-A in general was for mouthing-off or not listening or not obeying. That
earned her children a swift response. Type-B required strategy and was never
hurried as it was a lifelong lesson. If the strategy was unsuccessful then her
fallback would be “OK! Then you can just tell your story to St. Peter”.
Either way she would never concede discipline. It was her red-line.
Anita seemed to have a well-defined sense of self. For instance, she could have
been the first woman VFW member at her post but chose the auxiliary instead to
be with the girls where she belonged. Anita was a very well-liked, non-judgmental
person who knew how to listen and how to keep a secret.
She was a great and creative cook who never tolerated her family disliking unfamiliar foods.
Making life an adventure was important to her. She would say to her children when
growing up in Illinois that there is a big world out there. You should see it.
Religion was important to her. She gave her kids Catholic educations and took
them to church every Sunday. Country was important to her. She worked in an
ammunitions plant, served in a combat zone and always exercised her right to vote
plus she worked in the voting polls. Humanity was important to her. She was a
member of the benevolent Exchange Club and served as its club president. Also,
she was a grassroots fund raiser seeking a cure to polio through the March of
She was a lucky person. It was common for her to win door prizes, win on slot
machines, be celebrated with surprises and parties. Anita did not have a sickly life.
In her early 40s her daughter had what was thought to be a fatal car accident. A
doctor who was a stranger to the family, against all odds, saved her life. Her son
came back from Vietnam. Her husband and all of her kids were with her to the end.
Controlled and accurate communication was important to Anita. She thought
knowing what to say was just as important as knowing what not to say and when to
do either. She took pride in her competence in foreign languages and writing in
both types of shorthand and typing accurately. She maintained her mental acuity
for as long as possible with crossword puzzles and novels. She loved music and
trivia and tongue twisters and geography.
At the end of her independence she went down fighting for her consciousness. I
found hundreds of origami roses that she had made from shards of paper towel
hidden in every and all possible locations within the house.
Anita was a true fatalist. In her mind there was no question that her destiny was
pre-determined. Nothing frightened her except the endangerment of her family.
Case in point, she was in a bank robbery. The gunman put his weapon in her face
and she had no reaction. Her only thought in the moment was - this is how it ends.
Yet when the Army couldn’t locate her son in Vietnam she was inconsolable.
Maybe because she lost her parents at an early age she felt that she would not live a
long life. She would say that everything after the age of 50 was gravy.
Anita’s instructions to those affected by her death is to remember that it's ok to
mourn her passing but it’s not ok to be sad. She said, "Just think of me and my
friends on a cloud with a hole in our keg”. This is the inevitable view to the
conclusion of a pragmatist’s life.
So, while this is a massive abbreviation describing this important relationship our
family does believe that this message is a good tribute from a proud and loving
family to an iconic matriarch and selfless guardian.
Take Anita from us now O Lord and into thy hands