Dr. Deanna Holtzman
Dr. Deanna Holtzman

Dr. Deanna “Deedie” Holtzman was a dedicated psychoanalyst, a fearless trailblazer, a loyal friend and, above all, a loving and devoted wife, mother and grandmother. After a valiant bout with pancreatic cancer, Deedie passed away on Aug. 24, 2016, at her Bloomfield Hills home, surrounded by those she loved most. She was 79.

Deedie and her sister, Debby, grew up in Chicago with their parents, David and Letty Goldstein. After graduating high school at age 16, Deedie made her way to Ann Arbor, where she began her studies as a French major at the University of Michigan.

A mutual friend introduced Deedie to David Holtzman, and they fell in love. She chose to continue her educational pursuits part-time while she focused on marriage and motherhood, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree from UM-Dearborn with her husband and children in proud attendance.

She continued her studies, earning a master’s and Ph.D. in psychology from Wayne State University. Throughout her demanding course of study, she managed to work around her children’s schedules, making sure she was available when they needed her.

Deedie broke new ground for women in the psychoanalytic field, starting with her enrollment in the Wayne State University Ph.D. program at a time when a pregnant doctoral candidate was not readily accepted.

Never one to let barriers stand in her way, after receiving her doctorate, Deedie became the first woman as well as the first Ph.D. appointed as a training and supervising analyst for the Farmington Hills-based Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. She later became president of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and was the first non-medical, U.S.-trained analyst to become chairperson of the institute’s Educational Committee. She was also the immediate past president of the Freud Archives.

In addition to a long list of publications, her many honors and accolades included being a seven-time recipient of the Outstanding Psychoanalytic Teaching Award and winning the National Woman Psychoanalytic Scholar designation from the American Psychoanalytic Association in 2015.


Family Life

Her accomplished professional life, which included maintaining a private practice, required her to schedule her days with precision, accounting for every minute and organizing plans far in advance, sometimes to the amusement of her family and friends. She loved reading and had many other interests that included music, theater, bridge (she was a Silver Life Master), travel and dining out. Although she traded her early French major for psychology, she retained her love of the language, making frequent memorable trips to France.

As accomplished as she was in the field of psychology, Deedie’s greatest pride came from her family. As her children married, she welcomed their spouses and families as if they were her own. When the grandchildren arrived, they became the light of her life. She made time to keep up to date on their activities and accomplishments, using email to keep in touch between visits. She encouraged her children and grandchildren to follow their dreams, reassuring them they could be successful at whatever they chose to pursue.

According to Deedie’s children, their mother “was the strong nuclear force binding all the disparate elements of her lifetime together: family, friends and colleagues, art, music and language.”

During their 61-year marriage, Deedie and David enjoyed a life filled with caring, mutual devotion and good times spent with family and close friends. When she became ill, David took care of her with a devotion that reflected the closeness they shared for so many years.


Passion, Compassion

Deedie’s sister, Debby, described her as “a meteor — bright, exciting, passionate about everything.” She had a deep interest in other people, showing great affection and compassion for those close to her and also for the fellow citizens who shared her community and her world. In addition to her many professional involvements, she was active in other organizations that included the national Jewish federation-based Jewish women’s philanthropic organization, the Lions of Judah.

Deedie was constantly learning and believed strongly in the importance of education, and her love of language made her a fierce Scrabble opponent. She developed strong friendships throughout her life, many dating back to childhood. She was outspoken about her views on a variety of subjects, but she always kept her door and her mind open, preferring to keep a friend than make an enemy.

As a practicing psychoanalyst, Deedie was devoted to her patients, taking care of them with skill and compassion, yet never bringing her work home. After she became ill, she reluctantly stepped down from her practice, not wanting her needs to overshadow those of her patients.

Dr. Deanna Holtzman is survived by her husband of 61 years, David B. Holtzman; daughters and sons-in-law, Susan (David) Frankel of New York, Karen Holtzman (Tom Gardon) of Massachusetts; son and daughter-in-law, Daniel (Arlene) Holtzman of Massachusetts; grandchildren, Alexander Frankel, Emma Frankel, Joseph Holtzman and Samuel Holtzman; sister, Debby (the late Norman) Tucker.

Interment was at Clover Hill Park Cemetery. Contributions may be made to Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation, 32841 Middlebelt Road, #411, Farmington Hills, MI 48334, www.mpi-mps.org/main; the Salvation Army, 16310 Northland Drive, Southfield, MI 48075, www.salvationarmyusa.org; or to a charity of one’s choice. Arrangements were by Ira Kaufman Chapel.

By Ronelle Grier, Contributing Writer