Obituary of Lillian Moller Gilbreth |

Obituary of Lillian Moller Gilbreth

Lillian Moller Gilbreth was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 18, 1938 to parents, William Moller Gilbreth and Jean Irvin Gilbreth and died at her home in Grass Valley, California due to complications from heart disease on January 18, 2020.

Lillian graduated from the Agnes Irwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and attended Purdue University and University of California, Berkeley and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Sacramento State University and her Masters of Arts Degree in Human Behavior from National University.

Ms. Gilbreth was the granddaughter of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, world renowned time and motion study engineers. Lillian was named after her grandmother who had a commemorative US stamp named in her honor due to her work in industrial psychology and industrial engineering. Books and movies depicting the life of the Gilbreth family were written and produced like Cheaper by The Dozen and Bells on Their Toes.

For the first part of her career, Lillian spanned fashion to the food industry. She was a buyer at Bonwit Teller and Saks Fifth Avenue in Philadelphia and then shifted into hospitality and organic food before it was in vogue.

She moved her family to Nantucket, Massachusetts in the late 1960’s where she had summered and sailed throughout her childhood and began her career in the restaurant business and was the first woman to work as a sous chef at The Club Car with Chef, Michael Shannon. She later ran the kitchens at the infamous Chicken Box and Preston’s Airport Lounge.

In 1974, she left Nantucket for Northern California to pursue the organic food movement which was just getting started. She bought a ranch in Rough and Ready, California and helped open and manage the Briarpatch Food Coop in Grass Valley and the Venice Ocean Park Coop which were some of the first food organic cooperatives in California. She continued pioneering health food by becoming the director of food services at The Pritikin Institute which was one of the first diet based healthy heart programs in the US.

In the late 1970’s Lillian went back to school to pursue her Master’s degree in Human Behavior and founded the Silver Taco Medicine Society, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center. Lillian was passionate about serving others and became a trailblazer in designing relapse programs for Sacramento State University, Yalenty in Cuernavaca, MX and Acton Rehab Center. Her unique style helped to shape more successful relapse prevention strategies.

Lillian served on the board of directors of The Nevada County Peace Center, Briarpatch Coop, and Harmony Health. She also dedicated her time to doing sing-a-longs on Sunday’s at senior centers in Grass Valley and Nevada City, California. Throughout her life, Lillian committed her time and energy to elevating civil rights and human rights for all people and was always a voice for the underdogs in society.

She is survived by her husband, Stephen Holley and her daughter, Amy Holmwood and son, Michael Holmwood (Deceased sons, James M. Holmwood and William G. Holmwood) and her 7 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

We want to thank the wonderful people who helped make her life more special toward the end at Hospice of the Foothills and Full Circle Living and Dying Collective and, an extra special thanks to Dr. Stephen Bannister and Dr. Chris Montanaro. Please send donations on Lillian’s behalf to

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