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Constance (‘Connie’) Annie Purington Holman

The Portsmouth Herald, Thursday, July 9, 2009

[The following article is courtesy of the Portsmouth Herald and Seacoast Online.]

Connie Holman

HAMPTON — Constance A. (Purington) Holman, 74, of Hampton, died Wednesday, July 8, 2009, at her home after a courageous battle with cancer.

Born July 23, 1934, in Hampton, she was a lifelong resident of Hampton and North Hampton and the daughter of the late Walter and Hazel (Chapman) Purington.

Family members include her husband of 58 years, John Holman; a daughter, Melanie Caruso and husband Frank of Dover; two grandchildren, Brian Caruso and his wife, Jessica, of Manchester and Casey Dureau and husband Nathan of Portsmouth; her three sisters, Marion Lamie, June Bennett and Frances Paul, all of Hampton; and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by a beloved son, Mark Walter Holman, in 1981.

Connie’s most rewarding career was as an educational associate in the Hampton school system, retiring in 1999. She was an active volunteer in the community, church and schools.

WE REMEMBER: She enjoyed family vacations and celebrations, friendships, making gingerbread houses for special children, baking for friends and neighbors, refinishing furniture, being an organizer, walks on the beach, and the arts. Her love of family always came first in her life.

SERVICES: There will be no visiting hours. A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the First Congregational Church of Hampton. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited. Private interment will be in the High Street Cemetery in Hampton. If desired, donations may be made to Seacoast Hospice, 10 Hampton Road, Exeter, NH 03833, or the First Congregational Church, 127 Winnacunnet Road, Hampton, NH 03842. Arrangements are by the Remick & Gendron Funeral Home-Crematory, 811 Lafayette Road, Hampton. Visit www.

A Celebration of Life of Constance A. Holman
July 23, 1934 – July 8, 2009
First Congregational Church of Hampton
July 11, 2009

For Connie-Woman,
with Love

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, July 17, 2009

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News.]

CELEBRATION – Hampton’s own Connie and John Holman are pictured here at an Atlantic News Christmas party with Community Editor Liz Premo. Connie, who passed away on Wednesday, July 8 after a courageous cancer battle, was remembered at a Celebration of Life service held for her on Saturday, July 11. 2009, at the First Congregational Church of Hampton.
[Atlantic News Staff Photo]

We said good-bye to Constance “Connie” Holman last Saturday during a lovely Celebration of Life service held at the First Congregational Church on Winnacunnet Road. Friends throughout the community joined the Holman family to remember a dear woman who enjoyed life and cherished her loved ones.

I first met Connie 10 years ago, when she retired from her position as an education associate at Centre School and I stopped by to take a photo of her for the Atlantic News. Around the same time I met John, her husband of 58 years now, during a similar assignment. What started as a couple of standard photo ops grew into a warm, wonderful friendship out of which many fond memories spring forth.

For instance, there’s the time she joyfully (and covertly) shared her plans for a special photo project she was creating for John (who was standing only 10 feet away at the time she told me about it). She would later surprise him with the pictorial gift on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.

Connie was a great hostess, and made things so special for her guests, whether they were friends on a “dream-come-true” visit from Germany or a huge group celebrating John’s 80th birthday last Christmas. She even made a simple take-out breakfast brought home from Wilbur’s a special occasion, carefully setting her dining room table with placemats, china and silverware and extending her very own brand of hospitality.

Then there were her beautiful gingerbread houses – handmade from top to bottom, sweet to the eye with snow-white icing and decorated with colorful candies. I was especially blessed to be the recipient of one of those Christmas creations – and other treats she hand-delivered with cards and best wishes at various times throughout the year.

John – who lovingly referred to his wife as “Conrad,” “Connie-Woman,” “CW” or “Constance” – often called her “The Commander.” She faithfully lived up to that particular nickname in a variety of ways, such as keeping close tabs on her hubby’s menu choices at our company Christmas parties for the sake of his continued good health. She often accompanied John to American Legion events, school assemblies and patriotic ceremonies. They also regularly entertained nursing home residents with music and song, the two of them sharing a “Volunteer of the Year” award they earned along the way.

When her cancer first reared its unwelcome head in late 2007, Connie amazed me with the matter-of-fact way she approached her situation. She assured me that she would still be around the following spring, and we would take it from there. Fortunately for us the Good Lord wasn’t quite ready for her yet, and she was able to enjoy many more visits from friends, family get-togethers, and milestones such as her two grandchildren’s weddings.

In recent months she dedicated a good amount of time seeking out baby clothes and donating them to the God’s Baby Closet ministry at her church, an effort near and dear to her heart. And – being the thorough organizer that she was – Connie made sure her household was in order so that her family wouldn’t have to search for important paperwork or other things in her absence.

Connie and I shared countless conversations over the years, and she was always a great encouragement to me, particularly if I had a “gripe” to share with her. We talked about her life, about her daughter Melanie and son-in-law Frank, about her grandchildren Brian and Casey, and about her son Mark, whose loss she still mourned decades later. And we often talked about “stuff” – the simple kinds of things that deepened our friendship and gave us many opportunities to laugh and reflect.

Perhaps the most poignant chats we shared were when we talked about matters of faith, especially as her time to go be with Jesus drew near. Connie and I prayed together, and she expressed a firm belief in God, whom she was confident would never leave her nor forsake her. She drew great strength from that – a strength that she in turn extended to those around her. No wonder her former classroom colleague referred to Connie as “a rock.”

Whenever I visited Connie at the hospital during her chemo treatments, she would be so upbeat, and always had something nice to say to anyone who came around to say “hi.” In spite of the formidable physical battle that was raging inside her, Connie’s very heart and soul would shine forth through her smile, her actions and her words, even as the cancer gained its momentum.

As time went by and she started to feel the full effects that illness brings with it, Connie grew noticeably more tired and would reluctantly exchange a pressing household chore for a much-needed nap. But she still provided great words of encouragement and shared her love with others, including me.

When Connie and I shared our final good-bye hug the week before she left us, I was amazed at how fragile she had become, and I choked back my tears. Yet she displayed that indomitable inner strength when she hugged me and assured me everything was going to be OK. Somehow, as the days go by, I am finding that she was right. Thank you, Connie, for being such a dear friend and a true blessing to me. Love and miss you.

‘My Grandmother, Amma’

By Casey Caruso Dureau

July 11, 2009

My grandmother, ‘Amma’, [Connie Holman] as we call her, since when my brother, Brian was a little boy he could not say “grandma” instead he came out with ‘Amma’, and it stuck!

Well Amma was a lot of things to many people.

She was a loving and caring daughter, sister and mother — always there for them through the best and worst of times, never to falter but rather a pillar for them.

She was a loving wife to my grandfather, Papa. They were able to see a lot of the world together, even living in Germany. I loved reading the journal entries she wrote and kept about her life and travels there, this was a very fulfilling and happy time for her, making life long friends. She always made sure Papa was taking care of himself, no matter how much he may have begged for that hot dog he really wanted! But their marriage was strong and full of love and devotion. It is what I aspire my marriage to follow.

Amma was a friend to many, sharing her love of baking with them, always showering them with the cookies and breads she loved to bake. I know my husband, Nate, loved to see that she would always have some cookies around the house, and breads to bring home for later — looks like I will need to find those recipes to keep his stomach happy! She made the most beautiful gingerbread houses, and sent them off to the more unfortunate — she was always so charitable.

She loved yard sale-ing with her friends — she always could find some piece of furniture that looked unsalvageable, yet she would take it home and turn it into a piece of beauty, I have always been amazed at how creative and artistic she was, and love that she would send me off with some old furniture that looked brand new and modern — just as she knew I liked my furniture.

Amma was a teacher, she not only taught her Kindergarteners their first steps of schooling in preparation for their many years to come, but she also taught the older generation that you can still live a vibrant life, even in a nursing home. She would take the ladies shopping and help Papa when he played them the organ; she touched many lives with her gift of caring for others.

Amma was the most loving grandmother to me and my brother Brian. Amma always made sure Brian and I had all the things we needed out of life. She made sure we knew all the safety rules of the home, even giving me a fire safety ladder when I was a child, for my second story room. She continued to keep us provided with safety devices, making sure my husband and I had proper working fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms for our new home — I believe there is one every foot on the ceiling! Amma and Papa provided us with our first cars, in which I’m still driving today!! Their graciousness never ended, but she not only was there to look out for our safety but she took us on many trips as children, sharing with us her and Papa’s love of history and showing us the rich history our country had to offer.

Amma showed us so much love and was a wonderful role model for me. Amma was many things to many people, but we can all agree it was her heart of gold and the way she cared for each of us that makes her near and dear in our hearts forever.

Tribute to Connie Holman

By Katie Wentworth,
Kindergarten Teacher at Hampton Centre School

Friend and Colleague of Connie Holman

July 11, 2009

When I first met Connie Holman, she and John were painting the block cubbies in the kindergarten room where I was to begin teaching in the fall. School had just let out for the year, and yet she and John were there volunteering their time and materials to prepare this classroom for more of Hampton’s children.

Each year, probably unbeknownst to any school officials, she and John donated something to that classroom to enhance the learning situation for the next class.

Connie treated that room as her responsibility and kept it as ship-shape physically and organizationally as possible. Imagine stepping into that situation as a teacher — a dream come true: shelves stocked, cupboards labeled, files carefully assembled and labeled for each activity or theme that we presented, plastic storage crates filled with math, language arts, and science supplies, again all carefully labeled and stored, so as to cut down on a cluttered look.

Someone observing from the outside, who didn’t know Connie, might even think it was a bit obsessive, and even say, “She needs to get a life!” But how wrong that person would be. This tremendously organized woman, with a sense of wanting to preserve the history of the workplace as well as to make things instantly accessible for everyday use, had such a wonderfully rich and layered life.

She became my mentor, my cheerleader, my friend, and when my own world fell apart, she became my ‘rock’. And while she was doing all that, she was being all of those things for so many others in her life — family and friends alike. She is the greatest example of living through adversity, finding the joy in life, and being strong, that I have ever experienced.

She was the greatest “life coach” I ever had. She made you want to share your joys and sorrows with her, and afterwards how relieved you were to have found compassion, acceptance, and when wanted, kind advice.

I will miss this dear woman very much. Now we have a very real “angel on our shoulders,” as her spirit will stay with all who knew and loved her.

A Tribute to Aunt Connie

By Martha Lea (Lamie) Lemire

July 11, 2009

When I started to think about a favorite memory or story about my Aunt Connie, I realized how difficult it would be to pick just one. She has been such an integrated part of my life and been by my side in times of joy and sorrow. From infamous family holiday gatherings in her basement complete with sherbet punch and gingerbread cookies, her endless support when I was growing up by attending many of my 3 hour plus dance recitals and chaperoning my high school band exchange trips, standing at the altar by my side on my wedding day 24 years ago as my matron of honor, watching and supporting my daughters through illness and accomplishment, and comforting me in the loss of my father are all precious moments that have shaped my life story. And Aunt Connie’s presence and influence over these chapters will always be treasured within my heart.

One of my most recent memories of Aunt Connie came from a visit with her just a few weeks ago. She was resting in bed and I had been sitting with her for awhile and she started to talk to me about this actual day. How she wanted all of us to remember happy and special times spent with her and for everyone to have a good cry and move forward with their lives keeping those memories as a way to hold onto the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose.

You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back. Or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on

A Celebration of Life

By John M. Holman

July 11, 2009

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to a Celebration of life of Connie Holman, who put up with me for almost 58 years!!

I have a couple of segments of life with her which might tickle your funny bone.

When she was in the 8th grade in North Hampton, she tried out for a public speaking contest and got to be in it. Believe it or not, she won 3rd place in the contest. However, there were only 3 contestants in the contest!

One Sunday at a noon-time meal. Connie noticed that our son Mark, at a young age, was not eating his meat. So she said in not too silent manner, “Mark, eat your steak so you will grow up to be strong and healthy!” Our daughter, Melanie, gives him a slight kick under the table, saying, “Mark, that’s not steak, that’s Liver!” Connie meanwhile had slipped out to the kitchen to dispose of her “Steak-Liver” into the garbage! I don’t think that liver was ever served again.

Also, when she was graduating from the eighth grade in North Hampton, she was awarded the American Legion Award. Our son, Mark, also won the American Legion Award in the Hampton Academy 8th grade. Sadly to say, I did not win the Legion Award!

And now I would like to read one of Connie-woman’s favorite poems, entitled “HUGS”, author unknown.


It’s wondrous what a hug can do
A hug can cheer you when your blue.
A hug can say, “I love you so”
Or, “I hate to see you go”.

A hug is; “Welcome back again!”
And “Great to see you !” or
“Where’ve you been?”
A hug can soothe a small child’s pain.
And bring a rainbow after rain.

The Hug! There’s no doubt about it,
We scarcely can survive without it,
A hug delights and warms and charms,
it must be why God gave us arms.

Hugs are great for fathers and mothers
sweet for sisters, even for brothers.
And chances are some favorite aunts,
love them more than potted plants.

Kittens crave them,puppies love them,
Heads of state are not above them.
A hug can break the language barrier,
And make the dullest day seem merrier.

No need to fret about the store of ’em,
The more you give the more there are of ’em.
So stretch your arms without delay,
And give someone a hug today.



[Transcribed and edited by John M. Holman]

A Celebration of Life of Constance A. Holman

July 23, 1934 – July 8, 2009
First Congregational Church of Hampton
July 11, 2009

Hello everybody; my name is Lynn Davis. I don’t know any of you, but I feel like I know all of you through Connie. And John asked me to say something because I drove a long way to be here, but I didn’t really plan on it, so I am going to tell you how I know Connie & John.

And I am going to tell you that the World Wide Web is certainly a divine intervention in my life. And about 6 years ago, my family decided to research itself, and I was kind of the lead person on it as my family were from Amesbury, Massachusetts. And back in the 1800’s, they were one of the lead manufacturers of horse-drawn carriages and trolleys. And it turns out that in Hampton, New Hampshire, you have a resident expert on that subject . . . . Mr. John Holman. As it turns out, Mr. Holman knows more about my family than I know about my family. So, I called the Library where he still works as a volunteer, and I said to them, is there a John Holman, is he still around . . . is he still alive? Oh, yes, he’s still alive and he’s still kicking. So, I e-mailed Mr. Holman, and this was in November, I believe in 2004, and therein began my love affair with the Holmans.

We e-mailed back and forth and several phone calls with Connie and John, and it turns out after about 6 months of getting to know each and researching my family, John made this list of about 12 or 15 things that my life and his had in common. And some of them are minor and some of them are not so minor. But I will give you my top three that really convinced me that it was a divine intervention that we met.

First of all, I was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the new hospital and John was born in the old Portsmouth Hospital. As you know, he is known as John M. Holman, I have been married to a man for 21 years, and his name is John M. Davis. And finally, the one that gets to me all time is that I have two lovely children. My first born was Sophia and my second born was Constance. Now the queer part was in explaining to my youngest daughter, how somebody else could have her name. She didn’t quite get that part. So we had to kind of come up with a different nickname and my Constance did not like the name Connie and did not like to be called Connie, so my Constance has a short name, calls herself Consey. We had to come up with another name for Connie, so we called her Connie-woman, because she was older and bigger than my Constance. So as I was trying to come here, I realized I had to explain it to my children that John’s Constance had pass away. I tried to think of something funny to say because my children thought of her as an instant Grandma, you know they just fell into her arms and she took a hold of them and loved them to death.

A couple of days before Connie passed away, I talked to Melanie and as you know that Connie was a very organized woman, we all know that, right? So I had made a joke with Melanie, that knowing Connie, she probably had dinners in the freezer, waiting for John, after she passes away, so that he won’t starve. So I came over to the house yesterday and John & I were just sitting on the back porch, so I said “Come on, John, tell me the truth. She did, didn’t she”? And he knew exactly what I meant . . . I said, “She has dinners in the freezer for you doesn’t she”? And he gives me that little weird smirk on occasion and says, “Yes, she does!” And I says, ‘knowing her, they are probably labeled with an expiration date so that he knows exactly when to throw them out when they have gone bad’!

So I am taking John around the house because that is the first time I had been there, is showing me his workshop and everything there is very well organized and he is well stocked with toilet paper, so not only did she leave him with enough food, but left him with enough toilet paper. She had taken good care of John, so you don’t need to send him any more.

“And there is no liver in the freezer, trust me!”

So, I just want to tell you that I realize that Hampton is way up here in New Hampshire, but Connie-woman touched my family in Patchogue, New York.


By Jessica Caruso

A Celebration of Life of Constance A. Holman

July 23, 1934 – July 8, 2009
First Congregational Church of Hampton
July 11, 2009

Good morning. For those of you who don’t know who I am — my name is Jessica Caruso and I am married to Connie and John’s grandson, Brian. Even though I have only known Connie for about 4 years, its feels like a lifetime; and I feel like one of her grandchildren as well.

I didn’t prepare anything for today but a story comes to mind about Connie that I’d like to share with you. About a year into my relationship with Brian, I opened my own Chiropractic and Family Wellness Center. We had a grand opening to celebrate and Connie was one of the first ones to arrive with her famous nut breads and cookies all wrapped nicely with bows and labels. She made quite the spread for my grand opening. It was so beautiful how supportive, compassionate and generous she was to me that day – and those acts of kindness continued on.

I thought to myself that day. “Wow, she has really gone beyond for me and doesn’t even know me that well.” I realized that Connie was the type of woman who would do anything for her family and just knowing that Brian loves me, was all she needed to know to do that much for me. It touched my heart from day one and really made me feel like part of the family. She continued to donate toys to my office’s children’s corner for the children to play with and give me different things to decorate my office with. Each day I look around my office and I am reminded of Connie.

One particular thing she gave me was this crystal paper-weight that represents someone who is compassionate and committed to their work, which she believed that I was – and I am. It looks like a diamond and every day a child will ask me “Is that a real diamond?!” I always respond, “Are you kidding me, if it was, it wouldn’t be on my desk but on my finger!”

She really spoiled me, and isn’t that what grandparents are supposed to do? I unfortunately lost all my grandparents before meeting Connie and I really felt like she brought me in and adopted me as her own. And same with Casey’s husband Nate; we both truly feel like we were Connie’s grandchildren as well and she was a generous and caring person and we’ll miss her so much. Thank you.

Memories of Connie Holman

By Katie Wentworth

A Celebration of Life of Constance A. Holman

July 23, 1934 – July 8, 2009
First Congregational Church of Hampton
July 11, 2009

December 12, 2009

Dear John;

I’ve been thinking a lot about Connie, and also wondering how you are doing.

Recently I went through my photos, pulling out some to put in albums for my children (I learned the need for recording from Connie). In the process, I came across many of Connie doing her job as teacher’s assistant. It came to me that perhaps she never recorded that part of her history. So I decided to make a collage of who she was in that role. In the photos, we see her carefully listening, assisting children, diving right into everything and having a good time — always smiling, always caring — a wonderful teacher, a wonderful friend. And an all-time Good Sport! She’d do anything I asked of her.

Also along the way of sorting through things, I found the enclosed poem (see below), which so truthfully gives a picture of death, which seems soothing. I don’t mean to give you pain, John, but rather remind you that Connie is very much alive in my memory. I do hope you are finding some joy in your life.

Love, Katie

Memories of Connie Holman

By Liz Premo
July 11, 2009

Good morning. My name is Liz Premo and I first met Connie about 10 years ago when I was on a photo assignment for the Atlantic News, the paper I worked for.

She was retiring from her career as an educator and I thought she was a very nice lady — I took her picture, she smiled for me. Around the same time I met her husband John; it was on another photo assignment, and from those two photo assignments came a great and nice, warm, wonderful friendship that has gone on all these years.

Connie just really touched me in a wonderful way — a sweet lady who loved her family with a passion, a wonderful friend, encourager, generous with her time and her talents and her baking. I was the recipient of numerous of those nice Christmas nut breads that she made. The gingerbread house — I really felt special when I got a gingerbread house. It was like, wow, I really am a member of the family!

She always invited me to stop over. There was a couple of big time family events that took place that she just made feel very warmly welcomed to — when they had some friends from Germany come over to visit; Johns 80th birthday — those types of things. She always just made me really feel loved.

I would call her on the phone and we’d chat. Sometimes I’d call her on my way home from work and we’d chat and I’d gripe about things and she just always would encourage me. She’d usually end the phone call with, “Now, young lady, everything’s going to be alright!”

There was a number of times when she and John would come to our company Christmas parties, and my daughter Sarah and I always had the pleasure of sitting with them across the table at the Christmas party. And she would always be encouraging John about making the right menu choice and “Stay away from the desserts!” — that type of thing. I’m going to miss her.

The last time I saw her was a week before she went to be with Jesus, and she was encouraging me that everything would be ok. I’m going to miss her.

One of the things that really stand out to me about that visit that day was, she was waiting for someone to come to help her with getting ready, cleaned up and ready for her day. When it was time for me to leave she decided that she was going to get up and go take her shower herself because she didn’t want to wait for the nurse to show up. She was, “Oh, I’m going to get my day going here!” And that was when I hugged her for the last time

I just want to say that I love Connie and I’m going to miss her, but I’m just so grateful for the way she touched my life in so many ways. Thanks.


By Leonard Lyons

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and stases for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until at last she is only a ribbon of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “She’s Gone!”

Gone where? Gone from my sight, that’s all. She is just as fine in mast and hull and star as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her, and just at the moment where we say, “She’s Gone!”, there are other voices ready to take up the glad shouts — “Here she comes!”

[Photo & Construction of Collage by Katie Wentworth, former Hampton Kindergarten Teacher]

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