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Velma Peigne Holt

Born on 9-2-1917. She was born in Okmulgee, OK.
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It has been a wonder journey in the life of Velma Marie Peigne Stanford Holt. Born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, Velma left there as a young bride and moved to Akron, Ohio. There she and her first husband, Neil Stanford, raised two children. During the early 1940s this marriage was dissolved and Velma moved to Buffalo, New York with her two children, where she later met George A. Holt, Sr. The Holts enjoyed 48 years of marriage and raised seven children.

Velma has had a blessed life working for her family and her community. During World War II, she joined many women in the manufacturing plants making materials to assist in this effort. While her children were attending school, Velma worked in a local delicatessen close to her home. She spent several years as a community organizer with the Community Action Organization of Erie County. To this day, she has worked well over 40 years as a poll inspector with the Erie County Board of Elections. But her love of life was the 44 years spent as an outstanding cook in the "kitchens of Buffalo's inner-city Catholic rectories". She retired from this role at St. Columba-Brigid Roman Catholic Church located on Eagle and Hickory Streets in Buffalo.

Velma received the most significant recognition of her work from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, in October 1989. The Seminary presented her an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Velma was recognized as a role model, whose life and work has been an inspiration to many people, especially to the priests and seminarians and a wonderful example of Christian virtue and Gospel hope. The young seminarians were assigned to an inner-city church where Velma worked. She often took the opportunity to invite these young men to her home where they sat around her dining room table discussing diverse and inter-cultural topics. The conferring of this honorary doctorate to Velma, marked the first time the Seminary had given such a degree to a woman, to a non-cleric and to an individual without college training. As cited in the Buffalo News article, dated October 1, 1989, Dave Condren wrote "the lessons she teaches are the same ones she was taught by the Blessed Sacrament nuns as a school girl in Grayson, Oklahoma. They taught her to love, she said, and love is the ingredient that goes into every dish she prepares. That's why her cooking gets rave reviews."

In Spring 1989, Mrs. Holt received the St. Joseph's Lay Award from the Buffalo Catholic Diocese. In May 1990, St. Phillips Episcopal Church, in their Celebration of the Sages, honored Velma for giving decades of service to make the life of subsequent generations one of substance, of challenge and of choice.

Without doubt, Velma's love of life can be attributed to her religious faith; yet throughout her life she has held a keen and devoted interest and love for music, especially jazz. Her late husband, George, was an acclaimed jazz trumpeter. Mr. Holt traveled the globe with his music and instilled in his wife and children a love of music that transcends the norm. Recall now, Velma was not only a cook, but also a gourmet cook. She continues to maintain a magnificent collection of music and cookbooks. She and George entertained numerous friends and were well known for fine dining, beautiful music and inspiring conversations at their home on Sunday afternoons.

Velma is an active participant in the activities of her church, St. Columba-Brigid. She is a past member of the National Catholic Women and the Dialogue Group, an organization of inter-denominational members who meet monthly to discuss current issues confronting the entire community. Velma is an avid writer who has chronicled many wonderful life experiences in her church and community. In addition to being the mother of seven children, who lead productive professional lives, Mrs. Holt has twenty-two grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. Though she is not in the kitchen cooking these days, she surely enjoys her beautiful garden, which her sons help maintain.

On September 2, 2017, Velma became a centenarian, celebrating her 100th birthday with family and friends.

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