Tyler Holt Obituary (2021) – Former Lafayette, CA resident

Tyler Chapman Holt
November 7, 1966 – September 28, 2021
Former Lafayette, California resident
Tyler Holt, formerly from Lafayette, California, lived a lifetime devoted to making the world a better place and building international understanding and died on September 28, 2021 at his Bethesda, Maryland home after a valiant battle with brain cancer. He was the adored husband of Anne Martin Holt, father of Lillian and Daniel Holt, son of Richard and Robin Holt of Lafayette, and the brother of Spencer Holt of San Diego and Stannie Holt of San Mateo. He is also survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and six nephews.
Tyler spent a quarter of a century as a field officer with the United States Agency for International Development, focusing on economic solutions to poverty, inequality, corruption and lack of opportunity. He was fluent in Arabic and did much of his work in the Muslim world and in Africa.
Tyler was born on November 7, 1966 in Newport, RI, to a US Navy officer. He spent his childhood in Hawaii and Lafayette, where he graduated from Acalanes High School. He received a BA in Mathematics and Economics from Wesleyan University in 1988 and an MA in International Development Economics from American University in 1997.
As a 15-year-old high school exchange student with AFS (American Field Service), he lived with a Rwandan family in Kenya and attended the Nairobi School for Boys with his host brother. This was the trigger for his interest in international development.
In 1998 he met his future wife in Washington, DC, where she grew up as the daughter of a foreign officer during interim trips. Tyler and Anne married in May 2000 and left days later for a five-year tour of Egypt with USAID. Subsequent assignments took her to the Philippines, again to Egypt, Washington, DC, Germany (including projects in Tunisia, Yemen, Israel, Libya and Jordan) and Ethiopia, along with an unaccompanied year in Iraq for Tyler.
The great joys of his life were his children, Lilly and Daniel. As a lover of the classics, Tyler spoiled her with Greek myths as bedtime stories and often read from the Odyssey or Iliad. The puppet shows, treasure hunts and birthday parties with spray guns had always inspired the children with his antics. No matter how demanding his job was, his family was dearest. He proudly said goodbye to his children at college, Lilly from Maastricht University in the Netherlands and Daniel von Wesleyan, his beloved alma mater.
When the brain tumor forced Tyler to quit work, he posted the message on Facebook and urged his colleagues to share memories of their time together. He asked them to remember why they had done their job, “since this world still needs us all to try to make people’s lives better.”
“You are everyone’s best known and most popular economist and friend and mentor. Thank you for your incredible contribution to making the world a better place,” said one colleague. “I’ve seen you are a real leader, a visionary, and a force to be reckoned with,” said another. Others remembered his encouragement, fearlessness when approaching executives, sense of humor, enthusiasm and empowerment of the field staff.
“I am impressed with your imprint on this agency that you love so much,” wrote USAID director Samantha Powers. “I can see it in the outpouring of affection and admiration that your colleagues have stepped forward to share with you … your life is richer because of the experiences they have with you.”
Because Tyler’s exchange student experience in Kenya was so life-changing, he wished that commemorative donations would be used to “lead another teenager into a life of service by introducing them to a different culture”. An AFS scholarship was established in his name. Donations can be made to American Field Service – USA, c / o Jonathan W. Gross, 120 Wall St., Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10005, labeled “AFS-USA Faces of America Program”. Or visit https://give.afsusa.org/give/184947/

Check out the online memorial to Tyler Chapman Holt. at

Published by East Bay Times on October 24, 2021.

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