Bertha Holt was born in a happy, Christian home in Des Moines, Iowa in 1904 and graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. After working for a year and a half in the nursing profession, she married Harry Holt, a South Dakota farmer. Bertha became active in 4-H work and in Public Health. She and Harry had four children in South Dakota, and two more after they moved to Oregon, where Harry entered the lumber industry. Both were dedicated to the Christian faith and when their six children ranged in age from nine to twenty years, they learned of the plight of thousands of Korean orphans, most of who were illegitimate children of G.I.’s from the war.
Harry flew over to Korea to see the situation for himself and returned with eight Korean children for them to adopt. They encountered considerable legal challenges, but the vision of little children dying in gutters, starving and unloved, haunted this compassionate couple. So, with prayers and unbelievable courage, they established an adoption agency at home and went in search of an orphanage for the 400 children who, for health reasons, could not be accepted into the United States. With incredible sacrifice and perseverance, by 1966 over 3,000 Korean orphans had been placed in American homes.
The incredible plight of Harry and Bertha Holt came to the attention of the American Mothers Committee and Bertha was named the National Mother of the Year for 1966.
By 1975, the Holt Adoption Agency had placed over 16,000 orphans into loving homes. Their work continues on today.