Mary Holmes as Family

Thursday, May 22, 2014 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Mary Holmes as Family
with Becky & Michael O'Malley
Cowell Provost House


Family history often shapes lives.

In 1651, Obadiah Holmes was horsewhipped in Boston because of his beliefs and stubbornness.  When his descendant, Mary’s grandfather Holmes, was looking for a wife in the 1860s, he went to the Ohio successor to the Seneca Falls women’s suffrage convention, where he found Sara Stratton (Holmes), whose obituary described her as “a lady abolitionist and classical scholar.”

Mary’s father, born in 1869, was a lifelong abolitionist Republican and a lapsed Quaker free thinker who followed the frontier from New Jersey to Ohio to Iowa to South Dakota, ultimately ending in California.  At the turn of the 20th  century, his cousin Jesse “Ducky”  Holmes, professor at Swarthmore College, was a frequent Socialist candidate for national office and a force in leading the Quakers back toward their historic social activism.

Mary’s mother, on the other hand, was a southern lady, a firm Democrat, an Episcopalian and a Montessori mother.  No wonder that Mary often spoke of herself as “Mary, Mary, quite contrary.”

As a single mother with no more credentials than an undergraduate philosophy degree from a small women’s college and a studio art MFA degree, no interest in publication and a confrontational personality, Mary Holmes nevertheless made her way in the highly competitive academic world.  Rarely the favorite of her peers, she ended her career as a full professor at UCSC.  Along the way she taught UC’s first television course for college credit, introduced horror movies on late night television in Columbus, and made art compulsively and continuously, painting from her wheelchair in her last decade.

Her son, Michael Holmes O’Malley, and other family members will share some of the stories handed down through the years about Mary and her remarkable family.  A light dinner will be served at the event. Please RSVP to the link below, as seating is limited.

RSVP required

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