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October 10, 2016

AskPatty says Goodbye to our Dear Friend, Holly Reich

Holly_Reich-facebook_photo_by_Holly-13698162_10154381440883675_1828193575124161601_o It was a shocking moment on Thursday morning, when I received an email from my friend Connie Keane at MotorMatters that said “Our friend Holly is dying today. I'm so sick over it.” I was devastated. I knew that Holly had been fighting cancer in the last year, but I had no idea it had become so dire. I also didn’t know that this was the fifth time in 20 years that Holly had faced this horrible disease.

Holly Reich was a fellow automotive journalist. I have been reading and editing her content for nearly a decade, but in the last few years, we became much better friends. It is because of this friendship that I have struggled with publishing this tribute to her; I just can't bear to say goodbye to this lovely woman.

Holly_Reich-facebook_photo_by_Barbara_Barrett-14522817_10154362726936049_6632357910089370105_nThe women in the automotive industry have formed a tight circle over the years: It's a wonderfully loving group of ladies who support and encourage each other in what can sometimes be a challenging industry. In this special sisterhood, Holly was a shining star and her passing will leave a hole in all of our hearts; she was always such a delight, always supportive and friendly, and always radiated joy and happiness, even when she was suffering. It was because of her effervescently positive nature that many colleagues didn't realize how serious her illness was, and why so many people were so shocked at her sudden passing. Holly’s Facebook page is filled with beautiful memorials, as her friends and colleagues remember her in so many touching ways.

Holly wrote many stories for AskPatty, and had a uniquely casual writing style. I often found myself looking at my own writing and wondering to myself "How would Holly address this?" Beyond just describing a car, she could look past its technical features to find an interesting angle; when she interviewed an automotive luminary, she always had a charming way to illustrate her account with personal details and tell their backstory in a more intimate way. She had that way with everyone: Sometimes, when she needed help with a story, she would call for guidance, and after spending five minutes hashing up her outline, we'd spend another half-hour discussing what was happening in our lives.

Holly_ReichConnie said something similar in her tribute at LinkedIn: “This easy chatter with Holly is what made her automotive writing so terrific. In an industry that can be eyes-glazed-over-too-technical for the average car consumer, Holly Reich made automotive more human. She was relatable and people loved talking to her. As her editor she frequently asked what I wanted her to write about when she was covering an automotive event, and I always said, ‘Just do your Holly thing.’ It wasn't dismissive; it was the way to bring out her best. She didn't have to study or prep -- all she had to do was talk to people. Just be Holly.”

The last time we spoke was in July; I had been driving with Sue Mead at the Heels & Wheels Lexus event up in Oregon, when Sue suggested we give Holly a call from the car. Holly was recovering from a recent chemotherapy treatment and she was tired that day, so our conversation was short, but filled with love and positive energy. I had no idea that would be the last time I would hear her voice.

Holly could always be counted on for an uplifting thought, and she never asked for anything in return. In a private Facebook message she sent to me just a couple weeks ago, her last words to me expressed her eternally positive nature: "I am praying and thinking about you in a happy, healthy, life," she said. "I know you will have lots of good luck. You have cleared out the toxic to leave space for the positive." She did the same in her own life, leaving behind negative energy and embracing the positive, uplifting everyone around her with her joyous, indomitable spirit.

Wherever our beautiful Holly is now, she is most certainly dancing and angels are laughing. She leaves behind so many lovely memories to celebrate her time with us, and I am thankful to remember her as my friend.

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