Loyola University Chicago

Modern Languages and Literatures


The Life of Dr. Carole Holdsworth

The Life of Dr. Carole Holdsworth

Clockwise from bottom right: Carole Holdsworth, Susana Cavallo, Carla Mollica (School of Law), and Teresa Mastropieri (Rome Center).

Born and raised in Chicago, Dr. Holdsworth felt a deep attachment to her city, but even more to Oak Park, where she lived all her life.  She enjoyed the sophistication of our Downtown stores and sometimes would come to class wearing the most beautiful handbags, necklaces and shoes to surround herself with a light aura of beauty, or a detail of color or shape.  Even when you could not recognize the designer, just the cut and the style of what she was wearing would be enough to inspire admiration and a little envy.  Her bright colors reminded us that Spring would be coming soon to calm our longings for a balmy weather.  Although not a sports lover, she felt strongly drawn to the suffering of opera  heroes and abandoned maidens whom she visited every season at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  As a good Chicagoan, she was not afraid of winter, just the opposite.  The strength of her character was manifested in many other ways, above all, in her dedication to her students and her attachment to the rules and ways of the university.  I do not know of any professor as generous with her time as she was.  She must have offered hundreds of Independent Studies, sitting in her office while a young person went on and on discussing a book or a project.  Thanks to her, many students in the Spanish section were able to graduate on time, even if this meant that she had to stay on campus longer than usual.  

Dr. Holdsworth dedicated her life to the study of literature and languages.  She knew Greek, Latin, French, German and Spanish, and could discuss the motivations and adventures of characters from hundreds of novels, but her favorite character of all was Don Quijote, to whom she dedicated a good number of articles.  It was as if Don Quijote's quirkiness, his violent rages and his innocence incited her to reflect on the challenges we face as people, and to the unsolvable ambiguities of our lives.  For that reason, being in the classroom for her was a type of ceremony; her students appreciated her dedication, but she also learned from them, from their concerns and hopes, as well as their fears and aspirations.  As she gained in years, her curiosity for faraway places awakened, and she took many cruises to different parts of the world.  I think she even visited Alaska twice.

For a number of years, she and I shared some events outside campus.  One of my favorite excursions was going to lunch or dinner with her.  Although she did not know how to cook, she knew how to pick a nice, flavorful dish in a good restaurant, and she ate it with relish.  Once the food had disappeared from her plate, she never forgot to leave a very generous tips for the server.  It was interesting to watch a waitress's surprise when they saw the tip she would leave for them.  She was also very generous with her colleagues and never forgot a birthday card, or one for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.  I still keep some of her cards. Just by looking at them I knew she had picked it specially for me.  A person like Dr. Holdsworth is to be missed for many years to come.  She was unique in many ways.

- Olympia Gonzalez


A compilation of tributes from Loyola faculty, staff, students, and friends is available here:

Carole Holdsworth Tributes

Carole Holdsworth Homily