Native of the culturally rich Northeast Georgia mountain region, Ms. Marie Derden Holt has serviced her local community actively for almost a century. A young 92-year-old, Ms. Holt and her rescued canine companion reside in their rustic mountain farm home, nestled deep in the enchanted rolling landscape of Ellijay, on family land that dates back several generations. The North Georgia School of Education alumna carries with her memories that echo of a seemingly different world, spanning across the nearly 30 years she spent earning her college education, a world in which the memory of world war was still fresh, the television set was the neatest new innovation, and monumental figures such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King graced the world’s stage.
| Captured during the mid-1940s, a young Marie Holt smiles in front of her dorm.
Ms. Holt's passion for learning governed her decision to begin teaching shortly after graduating from high school, saving as much of her monthly salary of $40.00 as possible for college tuition. She was able to guide and educate children as a teacher and principal for many years prior to even graduating college. Persistently enrolling in summer courses for three decades, while pursuing a career and raising her family, established Ms. Holt as an exemplary woman who never failed to display true character and determination; a commendable example for her eight children, 17 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren, and so far – four great-great grandchildren to follow, many of whom have in fact succeeded in achieving higher education and continuing on to attain successful careers.
Truly embodying the following words spoken by President John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,” Ms. Holt will undoubtedly continue to serve as a beacon of inspiration to her family, friends, and community for years to come.