Janet Marie Holland, 75, passed away on Wednesday July 14, 2021 due to complications resulting from a fall which fractured her left femur.
A proud San Francisco native, Janet came into this world on May 20, 1946, a gift from God to the late Raymond V. and Genevieve E. Holland, nee Burton.
Born with defects to both her left leg and spine, Janet endured numerous operations and medical procedures throughout much of her childhood and into her adult life. She graduated from eighth grade confined to her bed in San Francisco's Franklin Hospital and spent her first two years of high school being tutored at home because she wasn't yet well enough to attend school in person.
Nevertheless she was salutatorian of the Santa Clara High School class of 1964, and received scholarship offers to Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco. Janet chose to attend the University of San Francisco, where she was a member of the first non-nursing school coeducational freshman class in the history of the institution. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in 1968, Janet was offered a scholarship to the University of San Francisco School Of Law and was one of only two women in her class.
Upon earning her JD and passing the California bar exam on her first try in 1971, Janet began her career in law at Carpenter Funds Administrative Office of Northern California, Inc. and beginning in 1978 spent the remainder of her career at Fireman's Fund Insurance Company as in-house council specializing in computer and employment law.
Janet's impact was also felt outside of the corporate world. She taught at Golden Gate University School of Law for several years and received the Outstanding Instructor award as voted on by the student body; from 1981 – 1982 she served as President of the Board of Governors of the University of San Francisco Alumni Association and from 1983 – 1984 was president of the Board of Directors, Support Services for Elders, Inc., a San Francisco based non-profit corporation.
Still in her 50's, Janet retired from Fireman's Fund as Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary and for the remainder of her life focused her energies on an eclectic set of interests and her wide circle of similarly eclectic friends. Janet was equally at home sitting in a box at the opera or the symphony or in box seats at Oracle Park watching her beloved Giants. (In her final days when told that the Dodgers had cut into the Giants' division lead, in true Giants fan fashion Janet summoned the strength to utter, "I hate those guys!") She avidly followed professional tennis, enthusiastically rooting for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (but never Novak Djokovic). She loved movies of all sorts as long as they were "good" and had a particular affinity for Katherine Hepburn.
Janet had an insatiable intellectual curiosity, amassing a personal library that over the years came to dominate her one-bedroom San Francisco apartment. She belonged to more than one writing group and completed her first novel in her early 70's about the underground-railroad, and was working on a second, a humorous take on life in an assisted living facility, when she passed away. Janet could speak to and was interested in any number of topics and while she held strong views and beliefs she was interested in and listened to what others had to say.
She enjoyed humorous banter, was funny, often sarcastic, but never cutting or mean. She was also selfless, really smart, and politically liberal, pretty much set in her ways and would admit to a touch of OCD.
While standing barely five feet tall, Janet's spiritual stature was immense. With all she had to go through physically, Janet could have been bitter, could have had a "why me" attitude, could have let circumstances derail her dreams; but she didn't. She overcame adversity without ever thinking her circumstances were adverse.
Her capacity for love and developing deep and meaningful relationships served as the catalyst for her ever growing circle of friends. She loved fully and unconditionally. She touched and positively impacted everyone she came in contact with. From the super in her apartment building, to the counter man at the mid-block grocery store and deli, from her friends from college to their children and their grandchildren, from cousins, first, second and once removed to her innumerable God children, Janet was revered. And while she will be missed terribly, her essence, woven into the fabric of the souls of all those who crossed her path, will serve as an everlasting testament to a life well and fully lived.
Janet is survived by her wonderful and loving aunt Carol Watson, nee Burton (Bill), her adoring siblings; older sister Suzanne P. Finklang and younger brother R. Burton Holland (Nancy) and the aforementioned cousins, God children and magnificent and faithful friends who were with her until the last.
Family and friends are all invited to attend a Memorial Funeral Mass on Thursday, July 22nd at 11:00 am at Mission Dolores Basilica, 3321 - 16th Street at Dolores Street in San Francisco. Private family internment will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers please make a gift in Janet's memory to St. Anthony Foundation at www.stanthonysf.org or the University of San Francisco at www.usfca.edu
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