Jean Holly Gant

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Born in New York, NY on August 29, 1932

Departed on January 13, 2021 and resided in Yonkers, NY

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    Memorial contributions in Jean's memory to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital would be much appreciated by visiting St. Jude's Children's Hospital

    Jean Garnet Holly was born on August 29, 1932 to William Garnet (Bucky) Holly, a chemical engineer and graduate of Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and Grayce Arnold Holly, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, who was a nursery school teacher at the Riverdale Orphanage prior to her marriage. 

    Jean and her parents lived in their two-family home in Richmond Hill Queens, along with Ellen Virginia, her older sister, and her paternal grandmother, Anna McKinney Holly Carty. Jean attended P.S. 51 and P.S. 90 in Queens, and graduated from Richmond Hill High School in 1950, placing seventh in a class of 292 students. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Hunter College of the City University of New York in January 1954, and during her student years joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Rho Chapter. 

    After graduating in January, 1954, Jean accepted a position as a regular substitute at Newton High School in Elmhurst, Queens, teaching Foods and Nutrition and Driver’s Education, although the school had no cars to provide. Jean declined the High School’s offer of employment for the fall term, opting instead for a stint in the corporate world. She became employed as a business office representative for the New York Telephone Company from 1954-1958, leaving there for the birth of her first child. 

    In May of 1954, Jean met her future husband, Edward Mouzon Gant, a native of Chicago, Illinois. He was serving the United States Army during the Korean War and was stationed at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey. Ed’s older brother, Virgil (Buddy) Gant, a friend who had briefly dated Ellen, in referring to Jean, had told Ed, “I have just the girl for you.” So when Ed was stationed at Camp Kilmer he telephoned Jean. A blind date, to consist of a sight-seeing tour of New York was arranged. It included a visit to Lever House, the United Nations and the top of the Empire State Building, ending with dinner at Toffenetti’s. Ed and Jean’s mutual attraction was immediate, and they dated steadily thereafter for the next two years. They were married at the Church of the Resurrection in Richmond Hill on June 23, 1956. 

    Two children were born of their union; Christopher Edward on November 8, 1958 and Holly Elisabeth on May 28, 1961. Jean was a stay-at-home wife and mother until 1967 when Chris and Holly, aged 9 and 6 were both in school full time. From 1967-1969, Jean became one of the original Teacher Coordinators in the Women’s Talent Corps, located at Varick Street in New York City. This pioneering program later received a charter and became the College for Human Services. It trained disadvantaged and undereducated women to become paraprofessionals in the fields of education, health and social services. Jean left her position at the College when she and Ed bought a home and moved to White Plains, New York in Westchester County. 

    In 1970, Jean entered the White Plains school system in the Adult Basic Education Program of the White Plains Adult Education Center located at the Rochambeau School. She taught Reading, Math, vocational-Education Assessment and English as a Second Language. 

    Ed and Jean’s children were their joy and the center of their lives. Their world was shattered when Chris was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent surgery in August 1973. Following radiation and chemotherapy, and with no visible impairment, Chris returned to school. As he began to live an apparently normal life, his parents began to dare to hope for a successful outcome, but in the spring of 1976 the cancer recurred, this time inoperable. After a weeks-long hospital stay, comatose at the end, Chris died on May 22, 1976. One month later his family received posthumously the Woodlands High School diploma he had earned. Devastated by their loss, but grateful to still have each other and their precious surviving child Holly, Ed and Jean struggled to go on with their lives. 

    In 1979 Jean resigned from the White Plains Adult Education Center to become an Administrator with the City of White Plains Personnel Department. In December 1981 she received the Distinguished Service Award from the White Plains Human Rights Commission for her role in the implementation and administration of the Federal Court order which mandated desegregation of the White Plains Fire and Police Departments under

    Federal Court Consent Judgments (Mount Vernon, New York and New Rochelle, New York also received such judgments). Jean retired from the Personnel Department in December 1991. 

    Sadly, Ed entered White Plains Hospital one month later for his final illness, suffering complications from his previous pancreatic cancer surgery in 1978. He fought a fourteen-year ferocious battle, during quite a bit of which he had enjoyed relatively good health. Jean and Ed’s long and loving marriage of 35 years ended with his death on February 7, 1992, three days short of his 61st birthday. 

    The last years of Jean’s life were spent enjoying her family and a circle of life-long friends, including the Ins & Outs, women who had known each other, some since childhood, others in college, and their husbands, who when marrying a member, joined the group and maintained friendship and fellowship. She spent three post-retirement years (2006-2009) working in an administrative position in the Section 8 Rental Assistance Program of the Village of Ossining, New York. Jean then made a life-changing move, followed by several years residing in the Charter House, a senior community in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her cousins Anne and Grant Shipp lived nearby and she enjoyed their proximity, their children, their many friends and their own frequent companionship. Upon returning to New York, she was able to spend more time with Ellen, Holly, Alexa and Ashley 

    Jean is survived by Holly, her beloved daughter, and Holly’s two children, granddaughters Alexa Holly and Ashley Elisabeth. She also leaves her sister Ellen, an actress and writer with whom she maintained a close and loving relationship throughout the years, including stays at their summer home in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York.

    Guestbook Entries

    1. Ashley January 14, 2021 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      I love you always and forever grandma.

    2. Terry, Gayle, Reece and Nile Williams January 14, 2021 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Holly and family, We are so very sorry for your loss. Prayers lifted for peace for you all.

    3. Holly January 14, 2021 at 4:42 pm - Reply

      Mommy — I couldn’t have wished for a better mother. I can’t imagine a world without you. You were the perfect wife to Daddy and he knew it. Never once did you make him feel anything less than being the man of the house, even through the fourteen years of his catastrophic illness. You both were raising Chris to be a man, one who could stand and make his own decisions with love, guidance and solicited advice. I wish he had lived to fulfill the promise you and Daddy instilled in him. You always knew what to say in good times and bad. You and Daddy always told their awkward little girl that she was smart, worthy and beautiful. We were always so close and enjoyed our mother/daughter friendship and bond. We had so much fun talking, debating, shopping, sometimes just being. I remember as a little girl clinging to your leg just to be close to you. I remember us during my mid- to late-teens riding our bikes on the Bronx River Parkway. Then off to college I went where you would visit just enough, but not too much. Through the years, we would have full conversations across a room without uttering a word; just the looks on our faces and the subtle facial gestures we would make let each other know, ‘it’s been fun but time to go home — get the coats’. Trips were always great: Niagara Falls, Europe, driving cross country, Martha’s Vineyard when Chris and Daddy were alive; Sag Harbor when they were gone. Always sharp as a tac, I watched you manage the complexities of running a household, show a steel spine when riding out storms, manage the complex paperwork of running a household, dealing with the needs of others and handling endless medical documentation/other. You prepared me well. Though we made a million memories, I wish we could have made a million more.

      You were the world’s most amazing Grandmother in everything you did with and for them. I am so thrilled that you, Alexa and Ashley were so close and remained so till the day you had to go. They love you so much! So my exceptionally loving, brilliant, beautiful mother, inside and out, I have to say goodbye for now. My heart is broken and I miss you already. But I’ll see you again to continue our escapades. Now go brighten the night sky and give a golden hue to the day. I’ll will always be with you because I literally am you. I love you with every fiber of my being. Holly

    4. Kevin Butler January 14, 2021 at 6:04 pm - Reply

      My deepest condolences.

    5. Grantland Shipp January 14, 2021 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Jean, during my childhood I was always impressed with how graceful and beautiful you were and still to this day you are and always will be a beautiful queen. I will always remember visiting the family in Richmond Hills in Queens. Chris and I were always cutting up, and the parents were patient with mischievous ways. I have the fondest memories from my childhood to my adulthood at Sag Harbor with my own children. God Bless you and I love you.

      Val

    6. Patricia McNamara January 14, 2021 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      So very sorry for your loss.

    7. Ellen Gruffi January 14, 2021 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      Sincerely sorry for the loss of your beautiful Mom, Holly. Condolences to you and the girls.

    8. Tierra Stanback January 15, 2021 at 7:46 am - Reply

      I am so sorry to hear this Holly. Though this is a difficult time to grieve with friends and family I’m sending you *hugs* love and healing from my family to yours.

    9. Joe Foy January 15, 2021 at 10:09 am - Reply

      So sorry for the loss of your mother, grandmother, friend, and matriarch. I had the of pleasure meeting her on several occasions. Such a lovely woman. I always admired her caring and selfless nature. Words don’t do justice to times like this. But know that so many of us love you and we are praying for Jean Holly and the entire family. You are in our thoughts and prayers. My deepest and sincerest condolences to you and your family during this time.
      Uncle Foy

      • Raevyn Thigpen January 16, 2021 at 9:47 am - Reply

        I’m so sorry for the loss of a true matriarch!!! Ms. Jones, Ash & Alexa I love you all thank you for sharing Mrs. Jean with us. I am praying God’s comfort for your family during this time.

    10. Kevin Beamon January 15, 2021 at 10:17 am - Reply

      Sorry to hear about the loss of your mother! Praying for comfort and strength for you, Holly, and your family!

    11. Gary Smith, Sr, Melanie, Maxwell, and Gary, Jr. January 16, 2021 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      Her spirit is now an eternal part of GOD’s glory. She will always remain in our hearts.

    12. Ines Faiella January 17, 2021 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Dear Holly,
      I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers.

    13. Burnett Jackson January 18, 2021 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      I want to wish the family my heartfelt prayers and condolences during this time. My aunt Jean was a woman who epitomized grace, thoughtfulness and beauty.
      She will be missed and will always remain in my heart. I can clearly see how my uncle Edward was a devoted husband and life companion for her. Congratulations on a life well lived, and I hope this may serve as comfort to you Holly, and the girls during this sad time.
      Let us all revere her, as she was a shining example of what a caring wife and mother she was. She is now reunited with others who have since passed on, and I hope you have comfort that she is now at rest and with God.

      Love Always,
      Burnett

    14. Gary Smith January 19, 2021 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry for your loss Aunt Holly, Alexa, & Ashley. It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to do more family Sag Harbor trips over the last few years but i’m thankful for all the times and memories i have of her. I know she’ll always be with us in spirit day to day as well as on all of the future trips we go on.

      She was a joyful soul. She will be greatly missed.

    15. Nydia Leaf January 20, 2021 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      Dear Holly, Alexa, Ashley and Ellen,

      I am so very sorry that Jean is gone. Your loss is compounded by the circumstances of today – the masks and distances that are required just when closeness would be most needed. She was a loving, giving person in all her roles of mother, grandmother and sister. She instilled in you the qualities she embodied – a quiet strength and inner understanding of what is most valuable in this world – love and empathy.

      On behalf of my family, I send deep condolences.

    16. Alexandra Leaf January 21, 2021 at 12:53 am - Reply

      Dear Ellen,

      I am so very sorry to learn of the news of Jean’s death. Although I recall meeting her only a few times, I knew how special she was to you and her family.
      You, Holly and her daughters are in my thoughts.

      With great love,
      Alexandra

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