The John James Audubon Center lost a dear friend in late January, with the passing of dedicated supporter, legacy donor, and Stewardship and Advisory Board member, Jean Rogers Holt.
Jean's connection to the John James Audubon Center was personal -- her grandfather was born at Mill Grove. Jean and her husband Terry were a dynamic couple who, for many years, was the beating heart of the site. Together they fought to prevent development on the hillside overlooking the historic house and formed The Friends of Mill Grove, and they established a gift shop to provide needed financial resources.
One of Jean’s early battles was to get a traffic light at the intersection of Audubon and Pawlings Road, the site of many accidents. She succeeded, and then went on to serve on the John James Audubon Center's Stewardship and Advisory Boards. She provided wisdom and advice and was a self-made, smart businesswoman, who asked the right questions and paid attention to the smallest details.
Jean supported many of the less glamorous projects at the Center, including initial investments in the historic barn to make it structurally sound for events. In her 90s, she hiked through the muck to see the new Visitor Center under construction and consulted on the Sound Forest exhibit she supported as a nod to her support for accessibility. Her pride in the site was evident every time she brought family and friends for a visit. Despite these many accomplishments, though, the one she was most proud of was the traffic light. It remains symbolic of her grit, practicality, and sense that there is only one direction, even if you sometimes have to wait your turn.
In addition to all of Jean’s good works for the Center during her lifetime, she and Terry left a gift in their estate plans to establish the Jean & Robert Holt Endowment for the Center. This generous support will help protect birds and bolster the Center’s programs for generations to come.
Jean will be missed by many, including the team at the John James Audubon Center. However, her legacy will live on through all those that she has touched and inspired through the years.
Jean’s family is honoring her connection to Mill Grove by suggesting memorial donations be made to the John James Audubon Center.