She founded Fresno center to benefit Native Americans.
- Virginia Lorene Holloway held on to tribal roots She founded Fresno
center to benefit Native Americans. 01/26/08 22:28:17
informationVirginia Lorene Holloway
Born: Sept. 10, 1933
Died: Dec. 10, 2007
Occupation: Founder and director of Osa Center for Indian Education
Survivors: Daughters Dianne Payne, Patricia Hull and Christine Vercoe;
sons James, Jerry and Louis William Grieco
A memorial service will be held Thursday for Virginia Lorene Holloway,
who founded and directed the Osa Center for Indian Education in Fresno,
which serves Native Americans across the San Joaquin Valley.
Ms. Holloway, 74, died Dec. 10 of a blood disorder. The Osa Center was
named for her mother, Osa "Ocie" Blair Holloway.
Ms. Holloway came to Fresno from Cherokee country in Oklahoma.
Her Cherokee and Lenape tribal heritage gave her a feeling for all
Native American culture, said her son Jerry Grieco.
The Osa Center sponsored and organized the 29th annual California Indian
Education Conference in Fresno in 2006.
Ms. Holloway moved from Tulsa, Okla., to Fresno shortly after graduating
from a Tulsa high school, met Louis Grieco and raised their family.
Jerry Grieco said Ms. Holloway took an expansive view of Native
Americans' need to improve their education.
About 14,000 Native American children live in the Fresno-Clovis area, he
Grieco called his mother a storyteller in the Cherokee tradition who
passed on tales that her elders had told her and her elders' elders had
told them in an endless chain of spoken history.
"She spent time with children reading and telling stories, Native
American tales meant to teach life lessons," Grieco said.
Ms. Holloway also made Indian jewelry. She learned and spoke Cherokee.
In 1991, she introduced Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation's first
female chief, who addressed the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture in
Mankiller told her audience that her ancestry was Dutch-Irish on one
side, Cherokee on the other. She said the government forced Cherokees
from the East Coast to Oklahoma, where Ms. Holloway grew up.
The Osa Center defines its mission as working with the state Department
of Education to "provide leadership, assistance, oversight and resources
so that every Native American in California has access to an education
that meets world-class standards."
Michelle Lira now directs Osa Center, and knew Ms. Holloway well.
"She was a wonderful lady," Lira said. "She loved her heritage, loved
being Cherokee. I'm Choinumni. She served all Indians around here. ...
"She earned all Indians' respect, and she earned their trust. ... She
lived to educate."
The memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Fresno First Baptist
Church, 1400 E. Saginaw Way.
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