Her pumpkin hat perched atop her head, its green, velvety vines quivering with her every movement. As she looked up from the register, her eyes changed from a hardworking focus to a soft and caring expression—one to match her cheerful and genuine smile. “Happy Halloween!” she said, peering over the rim of her glasses.
This memory of Arlene Holt, like many others, is one of fondness and nostalgia. Arlene, who attended Puget Sound from 1952 to 1954, began her career as a cashier in the Puget Sound Diner in 1974.
Her job covered responsibilities such as customer service, keeping the dining and condiments area clean and organized, and handling both cash and dining cards from students and visitors alike. However, she provided more than simply her job description entailed: Arlene provided a truly human interaction with every student and customer she came across.
“Arlene worked to learn everyone’s name,” a note at her retirement celebration last June read. “She loved getting to know students, faculty, and staff. She welcomed everyone in a warm and gracious way.”
“Our time on campus only overlapped by a semester and a half,” one sophomore said. “But I still distinctly remember her…she showed more school spirit than I did.”
Arlene’s compassion, moreover, extended past the workplace. During her career at Puget Sound, she raised four kids-two of which, Pam Holt ‘86 and Mark Holt ‘91, also graduated from the University.
“She worked the earliest shift in the Diner so she could be home when her children got home from school,” the note also read.
Her presence at the University, from her time here as a student from 1952 to 1954 and her career as a cashier from 1974 to 2013, has forever left its mark on each student she came across.
David Wright, University Chaplain and alumnus of the University, reminisced on his memories of Arlene: “she worked in the Diner when I started [at Puget Sound] as a freshman back in 1992, and when I came to work [at the University] in 2006, she was the first staff person who greeted me when I showed up early to get breakfast.”
But behind her warm smiles and effervescent kindness, Arlene continued her long-enduring struggle with cancer. Despite all of this, Arlene maintained her bright spirit and perseverance as a cashier and member of the campus community.
“Something about her presence and demeanor helped shape the heart of the campus,” Wright said.
Arlene was the recipient of both the 1992 Staff Member of the Year Award and the W. Houston Dougharty Hearthstone Award in 2012, an award presented annually to “an individual…who has contributed, over the year, to enhancing life in the student center,” the school website reads.
The award exemplifies Arlene’s persona; she did not simply enable students to purchase food, but she went above and beyond to contribute to a community that she truly cared for.
Arlene-more words than the article limit could be written to honor your commitment and contribution to this community, but the longstanding motto of the Puget Sound Loggers seems to be the most accurate: “Once a Logger, always a Logger!” RIP Arlene Holt, you are and will be missed from this campus.