McAuley Alumnae Blog

McAuley High School, Toledo, Ohio

Pamela Anne Hollenbeck (1946 – 2018) – Taught at McAuley in the 70’s

Posted by mcauleyhighschool on April 1, 2018

Pamela Anne (1946 - 2018) Hollenbeck Obituary

Pamela Anne Hollenbeck (1946 – 2018)

When Pam Hollenbeck entered a room she changed the room. She filled the space with grace and light. But when Pam entered the room, she never got very far. She inevitably saw someone she knew and engaged them in conversation. To the frustration of her four daughters and the admiration of her husband, these conversations, which lasted twenty, thirty, forty minutes—could and did happen everywhere—the grocery store, the post office, the park, the library. She made you feel like you mattered. Pam listened like listening could save the world, maybe, in fact, it did. A Pam-inspired celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, June 17th at Wildwood Metro Park.

Pamela Anne Hollenbeck was born in Syracuse, New York to Marjorie “Marmie” and Robert “Hap” Hodapp on March 13, 1946. As the eldest daughter of the “6 P’s” (Peter, Pam, Patti, Payge, Paul, and Piper) Pam helped care for all the P’s: tending to the younger ones and making sure the older ones didn’t get in trouble despite whatever mischief they stirred up.

Following Hap’s career, the family moved often during Pam’s childhood before settling in Adrian, Michigan. In 1963, Pam asked Paul, the shy boy whose locker was next to hers, to a dance. “I married my first date,” says Paul. Paul and Pam (“P Squared”) were together from that day forward—married in 1968 and celebrating their 50th anniversary this June.

After falling in love with theatre in high school, Pam decided to make it her major while attending Saint Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute, Indiana. In her last days on earth, Pam slipped her SWMC class ring on her finger, affirming how much she cherished the memories and friendships made during those years.

Pam earned her Masters of Fine Art in Children’s Theatre from Miami University in 1970. This was also the site of her activist awakening as she protested the Vietnam War, joining a sit-in occupying the ROTC building. Throughout the years, she would join countless other demonstrations, fighting for peace and justice often with her daughters in tow decked out with buttons and signs of their own. In 1986, she and Paul joined the Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament. In 2017, she helped lead the campaign urging the Sisters of Notre Dame to reconsider their decision to leave their sacred ground and its 200-year-old trees. She passionately championed for an alternative that would more appropriately honor their legacy.

One of Pam’s first jobs was at the old Mott Library, where she was hired despite her skeptical supervisor who remarked that Pam was “long of hair and short of skirt.” As her skirts grew longer (and longer still) and her hair slightly shorter, Pam’s professional life expanded yet remained rooted in art and education. As a teacher at McAuley High School and Lourdes College, she pushed her students to see the big picture, consider the connections of all things, and do it all through a lens of empathy and kindness. Working with Arts Unlimited as a Teaching Artist and as Interim Director, she changed the conversation in classrooms throughout NW Ohio. At the state-level, she championed a curriculum that valued the arts as, not an afterthought, but essential to all learning. She founded the Northwest Ohio Peace School. Throughout her life she worked in schools, organizations, and hospitals as a storyteller and teaching the medicine wheel.

It’s impossible to adequately express Pam’s love for her four daughters: Corey, Emily, Annie, and Sarah. Tucked in every room of the family’s Old Orchard home are scraps of paper crammed with notes that Pam scrawled during phone conversations she had with her four daughters. Whenever any of them was participating in anything that included an audience, she was in it, radiating with pride. This same devoted pride continued when Pam became Grammy Pammy with the arrival of her grandchildren Lena, Matt, Josie, and Alice.

Pam also entered the room without even being there—through your mailbox. As the digital age makes physical mail increasingly obsolete, Pam did her part to keep the United States Postal Service in business with her homemade cards delivered regularly to your mailbox. If you knew Pam and she had your mailing address, chances are you got a card—brown paper folded in half, a picture clipped from a magazine taped to the front of the card and another one taped to the envelope. Each card was specifically designed just for you. These small cards, huge in heart, brought together all the disparate parts of Pam’s life—art and family and peace and justice. Through these tiny handcrafted works of art, she built family, created connections, and expressed her activism, which in one form or another was to let everyone know that they mattered, that they were loved.

Pam profoundly touched the lives of hundreds and hundreds of people every day. And every day since her death, another person emerges who has a story to tell about Pam and what she meant to them. So many of you have reached out to our family to express your shock and ask what you can do and how you can help.

On March, 23, 2018, the world lost Pam at a time when the world needs a Pam more than ever. The best way to honor Pam is to fight for the light that she brought with her every time she entered the room. Be the Pam you want to see in the world: Stand up at concerts. Dance at weddings. Light candles at dinner—even on weeknights, especially on weeknights. Read books. Finish books—even the bad ones because it’s important to understand why some endeavors fail. Send homemade cards to everyone you know. Talk to children without talking down to them. Hold babies. Trust women. Vote. March. Call out the hypocritical and the petty—in the church, in the government, on your own block. Write letters to the editor. Savor the foam on a cappuccino. Order champagne or Prosecco—or any alcohol with bubbles—even when you are at the diviest dive bar and they have to wipe a thick layer of dust from the bottle. Tell stories. Get angry. Get outraged. Speak for the trees. Make friends who are decades younger than you. Feel everything. Be invested. End phone calls and sign cards with the word “peace.” Be a Mamabear for every kid who needs one in their corner. Cry at movies. Cry at plays. Cry at books. Cry every day. Write it all down. Have at least one long conversation with a friend or stranger every time you run an errand. Play Patti Smith‘s Easter after dark, loud enough to disturb the neighbors. Go see Bruce Springsteen wherever he is touring. Never turn off a good song in the middle of a lyric. Boycott soulless corporations. Donate to worthy causes. Support locally owned businesses. Believe that words matter. Believe that art will save the planet. Believe in your daughters unfailingly. Believe in the world even when it gives you so many reasons not to. If you’re going to hug someone, really hug them. Go outside. Roll down the windows. Grow more and more beautiful with age. Hold hands with the love of your life. Love. Love. Love.

View the online memorial for Pamela Anne Hollenbeck (1946 – 2018)

Published in Toledo Blade on Apr. 1, 2018

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