A. Holly  Hollingsworth


A. Holly Hollingsworth left this world peacefully on Dec. 12, 2018, in her apartment at the Palo Alto Commons, California, with family at her bedside. She was born on May 11, 1926, to Nelson D. and Cecil (Rhodes) Hollingsworth in Russiaville (pronounced Roosh a vill), Indiana, where she resided until leaving for college at Indiana University (IU), Bloomington, in 1944. The highlight of her younger years was taking vocal and piano lessons and singing solos in front of church, school and family gatherings.
At IU she studied in the School of Music, was active in the Association of Women Students (A.W.S.), serving as senior president, and in Mortar Board, a national honor society recognizing exceptional college seniors for scholarship, leadership, and service. She helped put herself through college by working as a hostess at The Grill in the Student Union Building, and graduated in June of 1948 as a bachelor of music education. Family, friends and fellow students who heard her sing were struck by her rich contralto voice. She married Chester T. O'Konski in August of the same year, after which they moved to the eastern San Francisco Bay Area and raised four children (in Berkeley, Orinda, and finally Lafayette) before divorcing in 1982.
Holly was a loving, empathetic and devoted mother who gave the gift of music to her children, as well as an appreciation of reading, good cooking, travel, history, birds and anything that blooms. She is very much and will always be missed.
In her busy years as a stay-at-home mom of four, Holly managed to remain active in the community. She sang with the choir at her church for several years, participated in a handful of musicals, including "H.M.S. Pinafore," and was part of a group that presented professional music concerts for young people in the Diablo Valley area. She was also a founding member (1961) of the East Bay Alumnae chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, an international music fraternity. She thoroughly enjoyed playing host to luncheons for its members, as well as to dinners and barbecues for her then-husband's graduate students.
Holly became an active member in the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area (LWVBA), inevitably serving as its president and later on the national board. When LWVBA launched a newsletter on regional issues, the "Bay Area Monitor," Holly was the initial editor. She was passionate about regional transit, air quality and land use issues in the ever-growing Bay Area.
Editorship of the Monitor helped her land a job at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. There, Holly served as a legislative analyst until retiring in 1991. She especially enjoyed the hustle, bustle and challenge of her career when it took her to the halls of the state capitol in Sacramento and, on occasion, to the nation's capitol.
In retirement, Holly frequently toured out of the country and overseas, to destinations as far flung as Egypt, Hungary, Wales, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Ireland, Australia and Tanzania and Kenya, Africa, among others. She read, gardened, attended the symphony, opera, ballet, theater and, at the drop of a hat, baked cakes and pies for her children and grandchildren. She delved into her Hollingsworth family genealogy, discovering she is part of the 10th generation descended from immigrant Valentine Hollingsworth Sr., who traveled in 1682 from Ireland to Newark, Delaware, in the wake of William Penn. Holly also volunteered in literacy and family planning programs, and became part of a Great Books club.
A. Holly Hollingsworth is survived by her four children, Holly O. Austin (Neal Austin), of Crescent City, California, Timothy O'Konski (Susan Meade) of Palo Alto, Calif., Mark O'Konski (Jody O'Konski) of Fort Myers, Fla., Brian O'Konski, of Washington, D.C., and five grandchildren, including Jay S. Austin, Alexander T., Patrick B. and Christina M. O'Konski, and Samuel A. O'Konski, as well as many nieces and nephews and their families.
She was predeceased by both of her parents and all her siblings, including Jean Hollingsworth-Crenshaw, Evelyn Noe, and Joel Hollingsworth.
At Holly's request, no public service is to be held. The family will participate in a private ceremony later in the spring, and suggests that memorial donations in her name be made to the Audubon Society (audubon.org), the Alzheimer's Association (alz.org), and/or your favorite musical nonprofit.
Published on May 10, 2019
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