Sending Birthday Well-wishes to Molly

Today is the birthday of an amazing woman, Molly Holzschlag, and she needs our help!

If you’re relatively new to the Web, you may not recognize her name, but you are benefiting from her legacy. You see, Molly has been a force of nature on the Web for the better part of two decades. She was an early blogger. She was our fearless leader at the Web Standards Project for three years. Molly wrote 35 books on Web design, CSS, and other Web standards-related topics. She’s presented at conferences the world over and educated thousands of Web designers and developers during her tenure. And Molly was way ahead of us when it came to understanding the Web:

Everyone has something to contribute to the World Wide Web. Why? Because the Web is of us. Whatever we are as humans is now manifest in the Web: Our beauty, hatred, fragility and ferocity; our kindness, cruelty, confusion and clarity. Our wars. Our peace.

You might think that with all this acclaim, Molly must be pretty well off. Well, that’s not the case. Molly was far more concerned about the good of the Web than fancy jobs, lofty titles, and hefty paychecks. She did much of her work for free. In fact, she even ran a free “train the trainer” camp wherein she hosted a group of college-level educators at her home to get them up to speed on what they needed to know and what they should be teaching the next generation of Web designers.

I met Molly in 2003 when I was invited to speak at COMDEX. It was my first conference talk (and professional speaking gig) ever. I gave a talk on XHTML and she same up and complimented me on it. I had been incredibly nervous, so hearing someone so experienced compliment me on my material, it relieved my stress and made me feel better about by performance. And when she asked me to join her on stage for her next talk—her co-presenter Eric Meyer had to cancel last-minute—I was overjoyed. I don’t know that I added much to her CSS discussion, but I was so appreciative when she took me under her wing.

In 2005 we shared the stage again as we went on a five-city tour, giving 3 days of in-depth HTML, CSS, and JavaScript workshops. I learned a ton from Molly about presenting and she became the big sister I never had. My champion. My mentor.

I know I am not the only one with a story like this. Molly has touched so many Web designers’ and developers’ lives—both directly and indirectly—with her knowledge, compassion, and mentorship.

In 2013, Molly fell ill at a Web conference. She’s spent the last two years in recovery from intense chemotherapy and the damage it did to her body. She is incredibly weak, unable to work, and needs our help to pay for her basic living and medical expenses. So I ask you: Please dig deep and contribute to the GoFundMe campaign Kimmie Blessing has set up on her behalf.

For all that Molly has done for us, let’s do something for her.

Happy birthday Molly! We love you, miss you, and hope you come back to us soon!


Note: These are comments exported from my old blog. Going forward, replies to my posts are only possible via webmentions.
  1. MollyEHolzschlag

    I've been quiet because I'm overwhelmed by all of the outpouring of love and kindness from this amazing community of ours. I have to step back a bit and stay offline most of the time to keep myself calm (lol) but I have to pipe up on this post. There's one thing most humans strive for in life and suffer greatly because we rarely get, and that's being understood for WHO WE ARE AS WE ARE. It's difficult to articulate yet I'm sure everyone who has experienced it can relate. Robert Heinlein used the term "grok" in what was for me a life-altering book, "Stranger in a Strange Land" - the title itself speaks to this very experience. I think it's especially true within Geek Culture to have a sense of being outside of society, and the sense of being misunderstood is therefore heightened. The point? Aaron, I love you to the core of my being for so many reasons, but this one is the greatest reason of all: You Grok Me. I don't know how you did it, but in this post you articulated the me that I perceive myself to be - rather than the me that others assume me to be. For that, there are only two words I can find that remotely address what I feel and they are: Thank You.

    1. Aaron Gustafson

      You’re getting me all misty… I’m so glad you are hanging in there though. You’re one tough cookie and I believe you can and will get through this. I can only imagine what you are going through, but I am hopeful that things will improve soon.

      I love you Molly!