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Senator Betty S. Holzendorf

April 5, 1939 ~ February 29, 2024 (age 84) 84 Years Old

Senator Betty Holzendorf Obituary

Betty S. Holzendorf was born on April 5, 1939, in Jacksonville, Florida, to the late Fannie Albertie Holmes (Sand Hill, Florida) and the late Roosevelt Smith (Tallahassee, Florida). Her mother later remarried to the late Clifford “Lolli” Holmes, who helped raise her. Betty’s early education occurred in Duval County Public Schools, where she graduated from Mathew W. Gilbert High School at sixteen. She later returned to the school district as a science teacher. Betty began her pursuit of higher education at Edward Waters University, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (1965), a Master’s of Art in Biology from Atlanta University (1971), a Master’s in Education Administration from the University of North Florida (1973), a Honorary Doctorate from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (2003) and a Honorary Doctor of Law from Edward Waters University (2003).

A native of Jacksonville’s Eastside, Betty Holzendorf became one of the state’s most influential political figures. Her ability to deal with controversial issues without losing focus of the goal and her willingness to fight for the disenfranchised earned her respect from all regions of Florida. She used her childhood experiences to help create economic development programs in her community and residents across Florida. Betty’s tenacity, zeal, and courage were often compared to that of Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress. However, Betty had her style and was assuredly in a class of her own.

Betty began her government and political career as the city of Jacksonville’s Affirmative Action Officer and an assistant in the Office of Mayor Jake Godbold in the 1970s. She wrote her name in history when she became the first African American woman from Jacksonville to be elected to the Florida House of Representatives, where she served from 1988 to 1992. Then, she was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1992, representing District 2, which included part of Alachua, Clay, Duval, Putnam, and St. John counties. Her platform was helping senior citizens and securing funds for education on local and collegiate levels.

In 1998, Holzendorf was named Democratic Leader Pro Tempore and Legislator of the Year. Her service to the State of Florida included several Senate committees such as banking and insurance (Vice-Chairwoman), appropriation sub-committees on education, commerce & economic opportunities, regulated industries, rules & calendar, transportation & the reapportionment sub-committee on legislative appointment and redistricting.

Betty was recognized countlessly for her dedication to education at many institutions. She was committed to raising money for all colleges and universities in the Northeast Florida area for development and scholarships for inspiring students. She was instrumental in legislation re-establishing the Florida A&M University College of Law. Her unwavering support of FAMU resulted in her being honored with the President’s Award (1990), the Meritorious Achievement Award (1994), and the Honorary Alumna for Florida A&M University.

During her tenure in the legislature, she was also a significant advocate for the University of North Florida (UNF). She was instrumental in securing funds for the University Center, the Science and Engineering Building, the Fine Arts Center, and the expansion and renovation of the Thomas C. Carpenter Library. She continued to seek funding throughout her legislative career.

Betty’s service continued through the founding of the Northside Civic Association, a life member of the National Council of Negro Women, National Conference of Black State Legislators, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Board of Directors of the FAMU Foundation.

In her leisure time, she enjoyed watching Westerns, Historical epics, and Biopic films. One of her preferred outings was attending the Bausch and Lomb tennis tournament at Amelia Island. Her favorite activity was cooking any and everything. Every weekend was like Thanksgiving when she was in the kitchen. Cooking often brought her peace no matter how big the spread. Betty later began watching the cooking channel and would challenge herself to create exciting dishes that caught her eye. She also liked walking beaches to pick up seashells along the shoreline. Most of all, she enjoyed spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

As the matriarch of her family, she peacefully passed away on February 29, 2024, surrounded by her family, whom she loved and cherished. She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters, Helen Smith, Rebecca Smith, Doris Wise, Blondell Muldrow, and Rose Marie Smith. Betty leaves her beloved kindred to cherish her fond and loving memories of her to husband, King Holzendorf Jr. of 65 years; daughter, Kim Holzendorf-Lockley; sons, King L. Holzendorf, III, Kevin J. Holzendorf (Tracee), and Kessler L. Holzendorf; grandchildren, Diedre Holzendorf, Travis V. Lockley (Cyntiria), Tirrine Grimes, Kevin J. Holzendorf Jr., Kenadee McCallum (Josiah), and Kourtnee Holzendorf; great-grandchildren, Devin Hinton, DeAngelo Hinton, Laiya L. Lockley, Aurora Wolfe, and Noelle McCallum; nephews, John Wise (Christine), Tony Wise (Cammie), Sean Wise (Tanya), and Pastor Steven Wise (LaMonica); niece, Audra Booker; a loving brother-in-law, Oliver R. Muldrow; god-daughter, Bethany Lawton; and a host of grandnieces, grandnephews, and other loved relatives.

While her family was everything to her, she also extended her love to cherished friends, Pat Lockett-Felder, Betty Burney, Geraldine Orr, Pastor Melissa Nesbitt, Ken Johnson, Dr. Eric Stewart, Larry Shuford and Gerri Denson.

Sarah L. Carter's Funeral Home Northside is serving the Family.

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March 10, 2024

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Northside Chapel of Sarah L. Carter's
6665 New Kings Road
Jacksonville, FL 32219

Celebration of Life
March 11, 2024

11:00 AM
St. Paul AME Church
6910 New Kings Road
Jacksonville, FL 32219

Video is available for this event

Interment Following Service
March 11, 2024

Jacksonville National Cemetery
4083 Lannie Road
Jacksonville, FL 32218


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