In Memoriam

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Carolyn Louise Holzman ’77

A picture of Carolyn Holzman and Chris Cooksy

Carolyn Louise Holzman ’77, August 5, 2011 in Portland, from sudden and unexpected cardiac arrest. Carolyn came to Reed in 1973 to escape Houston, Texas. She was a typical Reedie in many ways. It was her character, rather more than her intention, that drove her to shun convention: there was always some more interesting, more engaging and creative, funnier and more passionate way to make or perceive something, anything. In fall 1973, she began hanging out in the commons’ basement pinball and pool hall, avoiding papers and professors and seizing the opportunity to meet and play with other escapees. She met Chris Cooksy ’78 over rounds of eight ball and High Hand. Inseparable since spring 1974, they were married in 1981. True to her whimsical, idiosyncratic vision and unable (or unwilling) to harness it to serve Reed requirements, Carolyn left the college—after some fits and starts—in 1977 to join the Portland Mime Workshop. The rigorous physical and technical training in Decroux and Grotowski methods combined with freewheeling improvisational theatre that she first encountered there informed her work ever after. She attended L’École de Mime de Montréal in 1981 and received a BA from Portland State University in 1996, receiving the Kellogg Award for outstanding senior in English. A founding member of both Portland Mime Theater and DoJump! Movement Theatre, she shifted gradually from performing to teaching. She taught widely in the Portland area, most notably as adjunct professor of theatre at PSU from 1984 until her death. Dancers learned to act and actors to move under Carolyn’s guidance. She was a master in the weaving of many disciplines into integrated, magical, sly, or slapstick-funny, complex but comprehensible theatre. Her students and colleagues remember her as a brilliant artist and generous and insightful mentor who nurtured any creative spark into a flame.

Carolyn created works of physical theatre, including adaptations of short stories by Gogol (“The Nose”) and Dostoevsky (“White Nights”), which she wrote, directed, and produced, not to mention designing the costumes, set, and stage. While her professional life was focused on theatre, she was also a nonpareil vegetable gardener and fruit orchardist, house renovator (showing a rare talent in both tilework and real estate), metalworker, pianist, Scrabble player, and house rabbit lover. At Centennial Reunions Carolyn and Chris reunited with a few out-of-town friends who had slipped away somewhere in the decades. For this reconnection all will be forever grateful. Immediately picking up conversations and jokes where we left off so long ago, we planned future gatherings. We never dreamed that this would be our last chance to celebrate life with Carolyn. She leaves scores of people, in Portland, and all over the world, bewildered and heartbroken. If you have stories you remember about her days at Reed or after, please share them with Chris. Telling and hearing these stories will keep Carolyn with us, as she should be. Reed thanks Chris Cooksy, Meg Riley ’77, Rebecca Smith ’79, and Jim Pearson ’79, who created this memorial to Carolyn.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2012

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