HARVARD — Catherine (Katy) Holland, 79, a 45-year resident of Harvard, died peacefully, with family at her side, on Wednesday, May 21, 2008, after a prolonged illness. Irrepressibly forthright and high-spirited, her life was characterized by a balance of enduring strength, perseverance and an unfailing sense of fun and adventure.

Born in Hackensack, N.J., in 1928 to the late William Waite and Elizabeth Broughton, Katy grew up in Hohokus, N.J., with her brother, Bill, and graduated from Ridgewood High School and Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H. After working in Aspen, Colo., and later in Cambridge at M.I.T., she moved to Harvard with her husband, the late Tom Holland, in 1959.

Her husband and neighbors introduced her to motorcycles and she was among the first women to participate in trail riding competitions in New England. A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, she loved Colorado skiing, downhill racing, motorcycle riding and travel. On one memorable return from Europe, Katy stopped for coffee in New York, was served Sanka, and was captured on hidden camera enjoying it. Her exuberant reaction ran as a commercial in 1965.

She retired in 1990, after a long career at Digital Equipment Corporation. Never one to slow down, Katy tried skydiving a few years later at age 66. In quieter times she enjoyed gardening, reading, walks on Harvard conservation land and living it up with long-time friends and neighbors.

Katy is survived by her son, Lars, of Westminster, Md.; her daughter, Kit, of Harvard; sisters-in-law Taffy Holland, of Old Lyme, Conn., and Ruth Broughton, of Auckland, New Zealand; a grandson; and several cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandnieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at the Harvard Unitarian Church on June 22 at 2 p.m. Arrangments are being handled for the family by the Badger Funeral Home, Littleton.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Katy’s name may be made to Cooperative Elder Services Inc., 9 Meriam St., Suite 28, Lexington, MA 02420 or to the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17, Chicago, IL 60601-7633.