Grandma’s 110th Birthday

Bertha Holt with Vice President Hubert Humphrey at the American Mother of the Year presentation, 1966.

In Bertha Holt’s words, “All children are beautiful when they’re loved.”

Bertha worked tirelessly on behalf of children in need until her death at age 96 on July 31, 2000. She was affectionately known as “Grandma Holt” to adoptive families and to the thousands of children around the world whose lives she changed.

Bertha was an American Mother of the Year. She was recognized by heads of state, the recipient of many national awards. But “Grandma” was the title she coveted most.

When Bertha’s husband Harry passed away in 1964, many thought the Holt agency would simply fold up. But Bertha said, “This work was always God’s work. If He wants it to continue, it will.” Her strength and faith persevered, and Holt continued to grow and meet the needs of an increasing number of homeless children.

Bertha’s leadership still guides Holt’s model of service to children today. We strive to uphold Bertha’s ethics, up-front and honest practices, and ongoing support to adoptive families and children. As an organization, we never want to forget our history, and the remarkable vision of Harry and Bertha.

Bertha’s 110th birthday would have been February 5, 2014. Please send us your photos or written memories of Grandma to billiel@holtinternational.org this week and we will share them here, in honor of her incredible legacy. You can tweet us at @holtintl or with the hashtag #HappyBdayGrandma.

If you would like to sponsor a child in Bertha’s honor, click here.

From Kelli Buhr via Holt Alumni Facebook

Sweet exchange of the heart!
Recovering from surgery for Polio circa 1964. I wished I had the opportunity to know her in my older years but I have this picture which I will treasure forever.
Smiles to a beautiful “Seoul” who gave her life to helping so many.
Happy 110th Birthday Grandma Bertha Holt

From Cindy Schuman, Iowa:

This is a photo of Grandma Holt in my home. I am behind her on her right and my son Daniel (Thailand) leaning beside her. My sister Lisa is also in the photo with her daughter Jenna (Korea). I believe this was 1996

From Kathie Stocker, Portland:

From Susan Cox, Eugene:

From Lisa Vertulfo, Eugene:

From David Lim, Eugene:

From Susan Aist Harris, via Holt Alumni Facebook:

My sister found this picture of Bertha Holt holding our two eldest children; when she was visiting North Little Rock some 23 years ago. We wanted our children to meet the great Grandma Holt.

From Cathy Crannell Pitt, via Holt Alumni Facebook:

1984 Grandma Holt and my adopted Grandma and Family in Dallas, Texas. In remembrance of Grandma Holt.

From Colleen Gruver, via Holt International Facebook:

Fondly remembering Grandma Bertha Holt today on what would have been her 110th birthday. Her life profoundly impacted thousands of families all over the world, including my own.

From Eileen Nunnelley

My husband Dale, son Ben and I had the good fortune of meeting grandma at the New Jersey picnic. Not sure of the date but probably somewhere between 1994-1996. It was truly an honor!

3 Replies to “Grandma’s 110th Birthday”

  1. I have a wonderful memory of Grandma Holt from perhaps 1999. We happened to be in the same hotel and by coincidence saw her in the women’s restroom. My daughter, adopted from Russia, was there too. Grandma Holt greeted my daughter with such sweetness and love, just like a “real” Grandma and I finally understood where her unofficial title came from! Neither of my parents are alive, so it was very special that my daughter could feel this kind of unconditional love. I think of Grandma Holt so often with gratitude and awe at her absolute trust in God that made her work possible.

  2. We have Grandma Holt and the Holt Adoption Agency to thank for the treasure of our lives. We adopted our youngest child in 1982 from Seoul, Korea. Our Emily is now 31, owns a loft in downtown Nashville, and works in the country music business. She has a degree in fashion, and is the light of our lives. This includes our older children and her aunts and uncles. This would not have been possible with Grandma Holt. She was a Saint on earth. Venton and Caroleen Thomas

  3. I met Grandma Holt when our adoptive families group hosted her visit to Boston in 1976. She was wonderful, so energetic and enthusiastic! In subsequent years she would respond to my letters and cards by inquiring about our children by name. She remains one of my heroes. Our children are grown: Cathy is 40, and has a 10 year old son Jack, and Dennis just turned 39, with two children, Oscar (2) and Ruby (1 month!). We are so grateful.

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