Longtime, much-admired Council Bluffs teacher Victoria Holder died Monday at her residence at Harmony Court.
Holder, 92, taught English in the Council Bluffs Community School District for several decades after starting out at schools in Harrison and Monona Counties. She retired in 1992, according to her obituary.
Holder was universally praised by former colleagues and students.
“She was one of those types of teachers that everybody should have,” said Fred Maher, who was principal when Holder was at Wilson Junior High and again at Abraham Lincoln High School. “She raised the bar of excellence — not only for students but for teachers, as well.”
Maher described Holder as “stern but fair.”
“When the kids came down her corridor, they knew what was expected of them, and they gave it,” he said.
“I consider myself blessed for having worked with her,” Maher said. “She was willing to help out other teachers, she was willing to help out the school district, and she was willing to serve on committees.”
“I respected Victoria a great deal, because she was such a kind person and effective leader,” former A.L. English teacher Rod Cameron said in an email. “When I came to Council Bluffs in 1985, I quickly learned I could always look to her for cues regarding district and community expectations. Finding the best way to serve Council Bluffs students was always her first priority.”
Nancy Utman was a counselor at Wilson Junior High while Holder taught English there.
“She started out as a colleague and became a personal friend,” she said. “She became an adopted grandmother to our children.”
The two collaborated on individual students, Utman said.
“She cared deeply about all of her students,” she said. “She wanted what was best for her students — as you find out if you talk to them. She encouraged them to become the best they could be. I think Vicki saw the best in all people.”
Holder did not seem her age, Utman said.
“Vicki was timeless,” she said. “She was 92, but she had young ideas. She kept up on things. She was extremely informed about world events and just not like you think of someone her age.”
Jean Regan, another former English teacher, shared a classroom with Holder at A.L.
“She was a wonderful teacher,” Regan said.
Regan and Holder also became close friends.
“I really loved Vicki,” she said. “We were friends forever. I think she died peacefully, and I’m grateful for that.”
Former colleagues and students posted glowing remarks about Holder on her Tribute Wall on the Cutler-O’Neill-Meyer-Woodring Funeral Home website at cutleroneill.com.
Holder graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1944, then attended the University of Iowa for two years and graduated from Omaha University (now University of Nebraska-Omaha) in 1949, her obituary stated. She earned a master’s degree at UNO in 1953. She taught in Harrison and Monona Counties before coming to Council Bluffs, where she taught at Edison Junior High, Wilson and Abraham Lincoln. She served as a regional sponsor and later co-coordinator for the Scholastic Writing Awards and collaborated with Dorothy Brown on the publication of a collection of student writings from 10 years of contests, according to a Nonpareil article.
She was honored with the Upsilon State Achievement Award and was an officer in her PEO Chapter. She was active in her church, where she helped with a Prayer Shawl ministry. In 1996, she started supervising student teachers at Buena Vista College. She volunteered at the Council Bluffs Public Library Gift Shop and in local kindergarten classes. She was inducted into the Abraham Lincoln High School Hall of Fame in 2015.
A visitation service is planned for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Cutler-O’Neill-Meyer-Woodring Funeral Home, 545 Willow Ave. Funeral will be at 11 a.m. Monday at New Horizon Presbyterian Church, 30 Valley View Drive.