Elaine (Holt) Malloy

    In the family home on George Street, Mendon, Elaine Holt opened the Milford News one day in
    May 1963. She was soon fascinated by a picture showing three guys from Hopedale who were
    graduating from UMass. She decided, then and there, that she was going to marry one of them.
    Fortunately, I was the one. There she was, a 19-year old who had had no shortage of
    boyfriends, making this decision about someone she didn't know, and she stuck with that
    decision for nearly a year before we started dating. What 19-year old does anything like that?
    But that was Elaine. Whenever she set her mind to do something, she stayed with it.

    During the past week I've spoken with many people whose lives were touched by Elaine. Most
    of their stories I knew; some I didn't. They all involved her going out of her way to help them. I've
    seen her drop everything when she found someone who needed assistance. We barely knew
    the Moroskis when Elaine heard that Cathy was going to be hospitalized for a while. Right away
    we were over there at their home in Northbridge, with Elaine cooking, washing clothes, cleaning
    the house and doing anything else that needed to be done. I always got involved with anything
    she did. I walked their dog.

    When Elaine found out that her Aunt Margaret in South Grafton was having difficulty doing what
    needed to be done to remain in her home, she jumped right in to help. We'd go to Margaret's
    house three or four times a week where she'd do anything needed. She'd bring the laundry
    home to wash, and return it on the next trip, along with a few meals. She did all sorts of other
    things for her, and this went on for about six years. Margaret was able to stay in her home,
    where she died a few months after turning 100.

    When Elaine's Aunt Evelyn in Florida reached her 90s, she was at the point of needing help
    from time to time. Elaine didn't like to fly, but nevertheless she made a good number of visits to
    Winter Haven to assist her not easy to deal with aunt.

    Of course much of Elaine's time and energy for years were spent taking care of DJ, CeCe and
    me, but there's far too much of that to go into here.

    After Elaine's mother died, it appeared that her father was unable to live alone. She very quickly
    converted our dining room into a comfortable room for him. He lived there for the last five years
    of his life. A few years later my father was too weak from heart trouble to function alone. Elaine
    turned the dining room into a room for him, and he was there for the last four months of his life.
    Both situations involved many difficulties, but she was able to handle them.

    When Lisa and Ahren were building their house in Thompson, Connecticut, Elaine heard that
    they could use some help. Very soon were going there most days of the week, for several
    months, staining woodwork and doing whatever else was within our capabilities. I don't know
    what it was, but when we had done all we could there, I'm sure she found another project
    somewhere else.

    When there were no projects to be done, she would be knitting something for someone. She
    was always finding someone she could add to her list of people she could give gifts to. A few
    years ago she came across a pattern for a knit hat that she liked. She kept going back to a
    yarn store for more yarn, and by the time she moved on to another activity, she had made and
    given away about 35 of them.

    For years, usually starting not long after Christmas, she'd find a pattern for a wooden item she
    could give for  the next Christmas. She'd show it to me and say, "Danny, could you cut out 30 of
    these?" I'd buy some 1 x 8s and get to work with my band-saw. Often, before I was done, she'd
    think of a few other people and up the number by two or three. I had the easy part of the job.
    She'd spend a long time on the painting.

    Many years ago, Sacred Heart Church had an annual fundraiser called the Pumpkin Patch Fair.
    Elaine dove right into that, creating stuffed fabric pumpkins and various other items to be sold
    at the event. She'd spend every spare minute all week at her sewing machine. Then she'd bring
    what she had done into the weekly meeting and have the ladies on the committee do some
    finish work. The following day she'd be back at it getting ready for the next week. Recalling this,
    CeCe said the other day, the project would colonize the house.

    When Elaine began as director of the Bancroft Library in Hopedale in 1988, she set five goals,
    and by the time she retired in 2001, she had accomplished four and had the fifth underway.
    She might have accomplished them all in one or two years, but the fin-comm wasn't about to
    dole out the money that fast. When she started, the furnace was in a shed, roughly 40 feet
    behind the library. I'm sure most of the heat, as it traveled from furnace to building, served the
    purpose of melting the snow above the pipe. Before long she had a furnace installed in the
    building, and the shed is now used for storage.

    Another project was getting air conditioning for the library. Until that was done, the library was
    closed on days when the temperature in there got into the 90s. They had remained open when
    it was in the 80s, but of course it was rather uncomfortable.

    As children's books had gotten larger since the children's room was first opened, the shelves
    were no longer suitable. Elaine had shelves made and delivered to the library. For a few weeks
    they sat in the program room and hall while she polyurethaned them. The budget had provided
    enough money to have the shelves built, but not to have them finished. She probably paid for
    the polyurethane herself. We both painted some of the walls downstairs. She also painted
    Disney characters on the wall of the children's room and did some other children's literature
    related paintings in the hall and program room. At some point, probably when all of this was
    done, she had a plaque made, and had a ceremony to name the room, the Marjorie Hattersley
    Children's Room in honor of Marge, who had retired around that time, and had been the
    children's librarian for decades.

    Another big project was making the building handicapped accessible. There were many
    complications along  the way, and the funds to do the work would be spread over five years.
    Partly related to the job was the general improvement of the appearance and usefulness of the
    formerly dungeon-like parts of the basement. Unfortunately, quite possibly due to the mold or
    other things that had been growing undisturbed in there for decades, Elaine developed asthma
    at that time.

    One morning, several years into the accessibility project, Elaine walked into the library and
    found that the workers were planning to move the circulation desk ten or fifteen feet toward the
    front door. They weren't about to take no for an answer, but no is what she was telling them. In
    the end, the move didn't happen. Everyone I've  talked to about that is happy she was there
    and wasn't about to get pushed around.

    Decades ago the main parts of the Statue of Hope had been covered during the winter. By the
    time Elaine was at the library, the covering was long gone. It had probably rotted away, and the
    statue was deteriorating. It was  looking pretty bad. Elaine didn't want to see further
    deterioration. She got an estimate of $40,000 to do the needed work. State Rep. Marie Parente
    obtained a grant in that amount, but probably because there had been a delay, by the time the
    project went out to bid, none were received that were under $100,000. Elaine wasn't
    discouraged. She went to work to find enough money to proceed. She got some from the town,
    some from the Hopedale Foundation, and some from private donations. The whole process
    took about a year, and there was one crisis after another. Even at home, I heard her making
    many calls to keep the job moving.

    The final step of the Hope project for her was to create a completion report to be submitted to
    the Massachusetts Historical Commission. She had to make four copies of it, each in a four-inch
    binder. It had to be detailed, even down to the formula for the mortar used in the work. The job
    had to have been photographed as work continued. Since I work for free, I was the
    photographer. There were more than 100 photos, and each had to be captioned, and of course
    multiply all of this by four.

    Elaine had been meticulous about keeping every scrap of information that she'd need for the
    report, but somehow the ad for bids that had been placed in the Milford News was missing. She
    needed a copy of it to show that she had advertised for bids in three places. She had the other
    two, but not that one. Normally there would be an easy solution to this. Somebody, probably me,
    would just go to the Milford Library where they would have it on microfilm. At that time, however,
    the library was undergoing a huge renovation and their microfilm projector was buried under all
    sorts of things. Fortunately, they were able to get the film for the date when the ad had been
    published. They let me take it to the Franklin Library where I put it in their projector, and was
    able to find it and print it in just a couple of minutes. I tell this just to give an idea of what was
    going on to get the project done. That's just one example; there were a lot more picky things
    involved than that. After the cleaning was completed, a cover was made to protect Hope in the
    winter. The original cover, which outlived its predicted lifetime, was found to be unsuited for use
    this winter. (2018-2019) A fund-raising campaign provided the money for a new one.

    The fifth of Elaine's library goals, barcoding, was in progress when she retired in 2001.

    In addition to her major goals, Elaine was always working on smaller projects. One example
    would be the Christmas tea. Not long after she began working at the library, she decided she
    wanted to do something to get more people into the building. She came up with the idea of
    holding a Christmas tea. The Christmas tea was what she always called it, but I'd say it was a
    Christmas lunch. She did it annually up until her last year there. With assistance and funds from
    the Friends of the Hopedale Library, she'd rent china (no paper plates or cups for that event),
    make sandwiches, etc., etc. and host about 120 people. Yes, 120 people in the library, all on
    the main floor.

    A big part of the teas were the ornaments. Some years she would cross-stitch about 140
    ornaments of different patterns. They'd take at least eight hours apiece to do. They'd be hung
    on a Christmas tree and as the guests left they could each take one. (Why 140 ornaments for
    120 people? There were always homes in need of the extras.) More often she'd buy twelve to
    fourteen dozen wooden ornaments and paint them. They were fairly intricate and would take
    about the same amount of time to do as the cross-stitched ones. By January, she'd be starting
    on ornaments for the next year.

    For the most part, Elaine had very little concern about money, as evidenced by the fact that
    checks would often sit around the house uncashed for months. She wouldn't hesitate to buy the
    best yarn, or go to Northboro where her favorite meat market was, to buy 40 pounds of corned
    beef every year for St. Patrick's Day dinners. But we got along fine as a one car family for 35
    years of our nearly 52 years of marriage. In 1969 we were looking for a house to buy, and came
    across a nice one in Grafton. We probably would have bought it, but the price was an
    outrageous $25,000. A few months later we found a more affordable house ($14,000, with a
    mortgage payment of $85 a month for 20 years) on Inman Street. We moved into it in February
    1970 and she was never interested in living anywhere else.

    Elaine liked to be very precise about things. Often at medical appointments she'd be asked if
    she was, or ever had been, a smoker. She'd reply yes, she had been many years ago. I'd
    remind her that was for two weeks when she was 17. For all practical purposes, the answer
    should be, "No."  

    For many years Elaine had said that she wanted to go to Alaska and Hawaii. In 2007 we went to
    Alaska. More recently Ted and Paula were planning to go to Hawaii and wanted us to go with
    them. I said if they could move Hawaii about 5,000 miles closer I'd go, but not until then. That
    was okay with Elaine. If I wasn't going she wasn't going and she never complained about it.

    Sometimes Elaine could be very patient and other times very impatient. When we were out in
    the car, I'd see what I'd regard as normal traffic, and she'd see a road crowded with idiots.
    Actually, there was another term she'd use more than idiots. When she was knitting, she'd
    occasionally see that she'd made a mistake, sometimes 40 rows back, and usually something
    only she would notice. Without a word she'd tear it out and redo it. When we moved to Inman
    Street, we knew we wanted to make lots of changes in the kitchen. We didn't rush into it. We
    thought about what to do for three or four years, and then it took another three years to get the
    job done. For a long time our island countertop was just a piece of plywood. Although she was
    working in the kitchen every day, the long process never seemed to bother her.

    Elaine was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. Over the next three years, she was in the operating
    room ten times, had twelve bladder infusions, and countless rounds of chemo, scans and
    various other medical procedures. She tolerated the chemo amazingly well, but in the end it
    didn't give the hoped for result. What I've written here just gives a hint as to what she was like. I
    think all who knew us, knew how much we loved each other, and have an idea of how much I'll
    miss her. I had hoped we'd have another twenty years together.

     Elaine's memories of growing up in Mendon in the 1950s.            HOME   


Elaine at her desk at Atria - Draper Place in 2011.

    The following is from Deb Rudy, Elaine's roommate at Brigham & Women's, where she was a
    patient for a few days before she was sent to Blaire House in Milford, where she passed on
    March 22, 2019.

    Oh Danny I am so devastated.  Thank you for letting me know.  I know we only knew each
    other for a couple of days, but I feel like we were lifelong friends. I can honestly say I have
    never clicked with another person so instantly.  Elaine and I had so many conversations about
    our lives, family, loves and hates.  She talked about you and how much she loved you from the
    moment she saw you.  She told me she loved you more each day.   She told me it was love at
    first sight. We also spoke of her travels abroad with her mother. She described places with
    such flare and passion I felt like I was there! What a joy it was, those conversations.  When the
    nurses would come in the middle of the night to check on us we would chat for a while until we
    both drifted off to sleep.  We even mentioned it was like having a sleep-over. I will miss her. I
    will never forget her!  I am so sorry for your loss Danny. If there is anything I can do, please let
    me know. I feel privileged to have met all of you. Please give my condolences to everyone.  

    Sincerely, Debby

    In 1999, Elaine organized an event to celebrate the 100th anniversary
    of the Bancroft Memorial Library. She painted about 120 of the
    ornament shown above to give as favors to the guests.

    Either the shop ornament above or the little shop below were done for the grand
    opening of the Little Red Shop Museum. Elaine painted many of each of them,
    but I've forgotten when they were given out. Over her years as library director,
    she did about 120 ornaments each year for the annual Christmas teas.

    When Elaine was four, her mother taught her how
    to knit. Over the next seven decades she created
    countless sweaters, hats, scarves and other items.

    When she wasn't knitting, she was usually cross-
    stitching, sewing, painting or quilting.

Elaine and Dan in a small plane in Alaska in 2007.

    Occasionally Elaine would make up her own pattern for a cross-
    stitching, such as the one for the Hopedale Community House.

Our tables were often covered with projects such as this one.

    This is a christening gown Elaine made from
    the baby's grandmother's wedding dress.

    I'm not sure what Elaine painted these ornaments for,
    but some of them might have been for the Christmas
    teas at the library. They were usually all gone by the
    end of the event, but she may have set a few aside.

    This little guy with his bundle of sticks was one of about 30
    or more that Elaine painted for Christmas presents one year.

    These nutcracker soldiers were given to Elaine by Dick Orff. Actually
    he gave her about eight of them of several different designs. His wife,
    Bev, had bought them but hadn't gotten around to painting them.
    After she passed away Dick gave them to Elaine. Over a period of
    several years she painted all of them, and gave away all except one.

    This is the article Elaine saw in the Milford News in 1963
    that instantly led to her decision to marry me. I have no
    idea why, but it certainly worked for both of us.