Mary Louise Holzman was born in 1928 and over time married twice, dutifully changing her surname from her father’s to her first husband’s, then from her first husband’s to her second’s.
In 1975, she legally rewrote her name to Hadditt. Because by then she’d really had it. With sexism and rote tradition, and the expectation of female obeisance, and so much else.
She wrote as she joined the women’s movement and began to use her new name:
I’m tired of a sir name
I want a her name.
I’ve had my first husband’s name.
I’ve had my second husband’s name.
I’ve had my father’s name
and my grandfather’s
and my great grandfather’s
all the way back to Adam’s rib.
The writer and activist, who ultimately settled on the name Marylou “Shira” Hadditt, died April 11 at her Sebastopol home. She was 88.
Though she struggled for some time with the limitations imposed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Hadditt in January donned a pink knitted cap and took part in the women’s march in Santa Rosa.
The printed T-shirt she wore read: “Raging Granny — 88 years young — marching since 1948.”
Hadditt was born into a racially segregated society in Atlanta. She would describe her childhood as that of a “Southern Belle-Jewish Princess.”
Incensed early on by the injustice she witnessed, she became a civil rights activist. She would work and agitate against racism all her life.
She married Warren Deutsch and they had two children. The family settled in Chicago, where Mary Deutsch continued her activism and became managing editor of the Hyde Park Herald.
Subsequent to a divorce, she married Thomas Stauffer and they had two children. The Stauffers moved to California in 1973.
Two years later, the couple divorced. The newly renamed Marylou Hadditt enlisted in the women’s movement. Later, she enrolled at Sonoma State College, then went on to receive a master’s degree in family and child counseling at the Santa Rosa satellite of the University of San Francisco.
Hadditt worked for a time with people who lived with physical and mental disabilities and were served by North Bay Industries.
A prolific writer, she blogged online, wrote frequent letters to the editor of The Press Democrat and co-founded the Lesbian Archives of Sonoma County. She wrote the PD in mid-2015:
“I am fascinated by the ease with which us folks living north or west of the old Mason-Dixon Line manage to blame racism on Confederate flags, South Carolina and the cops. Racism is ubiquitous — that means it exists in every possible nook and corner of this land. And it won’t go away until we look at our White selves, look at what we hide behind...
“Wake up! Look at the current voter restriction laws in many states. Visit a courtroom to see firsthand how justice is dispensed. Take a look at redlining in most cities. Go to the library. Read Michelle Alexander’s ‘The New Jim Crow.’ Learn what’s happening around you — and act.
“Black lives matter.”
Said one of Hadditt’s four children, Lucia Savage of Washington, D.C., “She saw herself as an anti-racist activist, a mother, a writer and a poet.”