Our mother, Harriet Esther Pope Olivotti, was born on Jan. 26, 1921, in Merrill, Wisconsin, where her parents owned and operated Pope’s Dairy Farm. After graduating from Merrill High School, Harriet attended Lincoln County Normal School, a two-year teachers’ college receiving her degree in 1940. For six years, she taught grades one through eight in rural schools. Harriet often told stories about her father traveling to the school on a snowy Sunday night to start the fire in the old pot belly stove, so the students would be warm on Monday morning.
When Harriet was 7, she met a young boy her age - Liveo Olivotti. He was helping his brother deliver milk for her parents’ dairy. Liveo took one look at Harriet and said to his brother, “I’m going to marry that girl!” On Sept. 7, 1946, after Liveo returned from the war and after spending three and a half years in a Japanese prison camp, our parents married. Our dad was always a man of his word! The Air Force stationed the new couple in various bases, and Harriet continued to teach in Tennessee and New Mexico. In 1959, she earned her bachelor's degree from San Francisco State. When the family moved to Fairfield, California, Harriet taught kindergarten and primary grades for eight years. When she moved to Livermore, she taught for twenty more years. In the Livermore School District, Harriet was well-loved and an expert Miller Unruh Reading Specialist, and she used her Learning Disability Credential to teach LDG. Although she officially retired in 1981, Harriet volunteered in her two daughters’ kindergarten and first grade classrooms at Croce School for another twenty-one years (1996- 2017)! At age 96, and after eight and a half decades in education, our dear mom finally retired. She touched and enriched the lives of thousands of children, and for that we are grateful and proud. Besides teaching and volunteering, Harriet enjoyed square dancing with the Eagle Squares for twenty-five years. She volunteered at Senior Services in Livermore - we used to tease her that at 96 years old, she would help the 70-year kids! Always one to keep her mind keen and sharp, she loved doing crosswords, reading as many books as she could, and crocheting. Harriet was a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile, Delta Kappa Gamma, California Retired Teachers’ Association, American Ex-Prisoners of War, (Cecelia McKie chapter) and the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. At 101, she had outlived the two military organizations as they disbanded as membership dwindled. Her husband Liveo died in 1995. She was loved beyond compare by her daughters, Christine Mercer (Dave) of Ben Lomond, Patricia Gephart (Doug) of Pleasanton, and Mary Triassi (Gary) of Pleasanton. “GG” was also adored by nine grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. She brought love, light and laughter into all our lives, and she will be forever missed. Harriet will be buried with Liveo at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2022.