In Memory of Holly Barrett

Last summer, on the priest’s summer trip, we stayed at a camp site that was outside of Salina, Utah. The spot belongs to the family of our Young Men president. It was a beautiful spot, and I appreciated the willingness of his family to let us use it.

Near where we camped, in the middle of nowhere, we found this grave site for a girl named Holly Barrett. She died at age 14, a few months before her 15th birthday. The grave has been there for 40 years. It made you feel pretty sober, standing above that headstone surround by sagebrush.

I’ve asked myself many times since, “Who was Holly? What was she like? How did she die?” Our youngest daughter was 14 at the time, so you can imagine what my thoughts were like.

One morning, we had a little exercise. The priests visited the grave site, and when they got back, we asked them the following questions, and let them take turns answering them.

  • Before leaving this life, what is one thing you want to be sure to do?
  • How can you make the most of your life today—right now?
  • What is the difference between real happiness and fun, satisfaction or pleasure?
  • If you knew you would die today, what is one thing you would change today?

These are the kinds of questions we could all take some time to think about.

P.S. If anyone out there knows who Holly is, please let me know by commenting on this blog. Thank you.

Update August 2021

After years of wondering, I heard from one of Holly’s nieces recently and learned of her sad ending. She was a special young woman who contracted leukemia—likely due to being a Nevada bomb-test downwinder. Chemotherapy in the 1960s was hard on her young body and she died of heart failure in a Salt Lake hospital. Her parents were in the grocery business and they named Holly’s Pantry, a convenience store in Salina, Utah, after her (the store is still running, though it’s no longer owned by the Barrett family). Holly is buried in Salina’s East Side Cemetery.

I’m grateful to have learned more of Holly’s story and I hope she knows that people still care about her many years after her passing. I also want to thank all the blog readers for their interest and for reaching out to me publicly and privately over the years.

4 thoughts on “In Memory of Holly Barrett

  1. Michael Booth June 4, 2010 / 7:54 pm

    Mike, I have e-mailed Holly's sister letting her know about this article and your request. Hopefully you will receive a response.


  2. Mike Fitzgerald June 4, 2010 / 8:46 pm

    Thanks, Michael. That is amazing that someone knew of her. I look forward to hearing about her.


  3. Rob Armstrong June 5, 2010 / 3:57 pm

    I found a reference to her in Her father was apparently Keith S Barrett (1923-2006)and her mother Vaneese Allred (1924-2001). She was born in Salina and is listed as dying in Salt Lake City.

    Her father's parents were Stanley LeRoy Barrett and Vynina Ball.

    Didn't find any account of her death or facts about her life. However, I did find an obituary for her father, Keith. Here is the URL:

    Very touching that he owned two businesses, Barretts Foodtown and Holly's Pantry, so he carried her memory in his heart.

    Next step would be to try some local newspapers as there might be on obituary for her.

    Hope that can help someone to carry the ball further.


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