3rd Prize – Bianchi Award


Hollis Dolce Bianchi was born in Orange, New Jersey.  She had a sweet, easy-going disposition and always seemed to be giggling, laughing, and anxious to have fun.  As a child, she taught herself to play the harmonica and the piano.  My mother frequently drove us into New York City to see ballet and opera and up to Connecticut to attend the Shakespeare Theatre.  Holly became fascinated by everything Shakespearean, eventually reading the Bard’s complete works.  She was a graduate of Marymount College in Virginia, studied art at the Corcoran College of Art, and completed a computer-programming course.

Our father was a lawyer who expressed his enthusiasm for the work of government by engaging in local politics.  Holly caught his enthusiasm and moved to Washington, DC when she was 21 years old.  She worked with the Treasury and State Departments for 26 years, living most of that time in Arlington and Falls Church, Virginia.  Early on, Holly discovered the Summer Opera Theatre Company and Dr. Elaine Walter.  It was love at first meeting.  Every July in all the following years, Holly would meet me at Union Station in Washington, DC, we would take the metro to Catholic University, and then walk across the blooming campus to the Hartke Theatre to see performances presented by the Summer Opera Theatre Company.  After Holly moved back to New Jersey in 1998 to be close to me and our other sister, Robyn, she and I took the train to Washington for Summer Opera events because she was a devoted supporter who would not let distance keep her from the special interests she had grown to cherish while living in the Washington, DC area.  Holly continued to feel that Northern Virginia and Washington were her real home, and she missed being close to her cultural connections there such as the Summer Opera Theatre Company, the Washington Ballet, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Although Holly was a government worker while in Virginia, her avocations, the careers of her heart, were writing poetry and illustrating.  During the 1990s, her books Collage:  A Collection of Poems and Poems for the Holidays were published.  In the following decade, Arcadia’s “Images of America” series published Holly’s two books of New Jersey history:  Leonardo and Sea Bright.  She was working on The Story of Larry, a children’s book about a dog she had rescued, just before her death.

The personality trait that enabled Holly to get her books published and to achieve many other things was her perseverance.  When she decided to do something, she dedicated herself to it and kept working on it until it was accomplished.  I wish to present the award named for her with the hope that the recipient will be inspired to use the same perseverance in pursuing not only his or her career but also every aspect of life.

Cynthia Bianchi