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Oleta Kirk Abrams died January 8th, 2005 and is missed greatly by all who knew her.
This web site is dedicated to her memory. It’s intent is to make available the stories of this amazing woman and her life.
Oleta Margaret Kirk (Lee, as she was known by many), was born July 12, 1927 in Bozeman, Montana. She was the only child born to Howard Manning Kirk and Margaret Maxey. Up until age 10 she spent her much of her childhood living in foreign countries with her mother and her father, who was a petroleum geologist.
After age 10 she lived with her aunt, Marguerite Kirk, and her grandmother Maxey. She was fortunate to have been loved and raised by very strong women.
She went to College at Emerson University in Boston and studied drama. In later years, her family would remind themselves that her dramatic flair was there with good reason.
Oleta married James Lewis McClintock in 1947 in Newcastle, PA. Maxey was born later that year and Rebecca Mary (Becky) was born in 1949. Soon after Becky’s birth the marriage ended.
Oleta moved to Pittsburgh, PA to pursue her Master’s Degree at the University of Pittsburgh. She was passionate in her work with autistic children.
While attending Pitt, she met a lifelong friend, Bill Anderson. She was introduced to and married his brother, Harry Anderson in 1956. This marriage was very short lived but brought a wonderful, loving family into her life and the lives of Maxey and Becky.
Bill Anderson introduced Oleta to his friend, Melvin Abrams, and in 1959 Mel and Oleta married. After the marriage, Mel and Oleta, Maxey and Becky moved across country to Berkeley, CA in a little black VW convertible with 2 dachshunds. Surprisingly enough, Mel (previously a 27 year old bachelor) stuck out that two-week trip!
Alexandra (Sasha) was born 9 months later in 1960. Simon Peter Kirk was born in 1964.
Oleta continued working with children, teaching school at the Gay School and Walden in Berkeley.
In 1971 Oleta cofounded Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR) along with Julia Schwendinger, and subsequently started the Victim/Witness Advocacy program for the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. BAWAR was the first rape crisis center in the United States and now that model is being used internationally.
Oleta had a passion for buying houses, visualizing what they could be, ripping out walls without consideration of when there would be money to make the changes she envisioned! Mel would come home to walls of lath covered with a sheet and piles of plaster on the floor. It kept life exciting. But she did have great vision and the changes were always for the better!
When Oleta stopped working for the District Attorney’s office she started teaching children again at Hintil Ku Caa, a child development center for Native American children in the Oakland School District. Oleta was devoted to Hintil and the children and families there. She taught until the age of 70 when she retired so she could spend more time with family and travel with Mel.
After 41 years of marriage, Mel died November 1, 2000. Oleta never stopped missing him. She spent the last few years of her life taking care of her magnificent rose garden, traveling with Becky, playing acey duecey with her grandson, Alexander, “getting into trouble” with friends and family. She loved to teach people how to prune their roses. She loved to teach, period.
If you have other stories or memories you’d like to share, please contact