By Dylan Roche
Her name is Edna Holsey, but everyone in Pasadena knows her simply as “Miss Edna.” At 95 years old, the owner of The Brass Rail Pub works seven days a week and has left a vivid impression on countless members of the community. “Everyone age 21 to 85 treats her like a grandmother,” explained Holsey’s granddaughter Stacy Phares. “Some people have known her their whole lives.”
In the wake of an awful assault and robbery in February, Holsey isn’t slowing down. Many of her longtime patrons and supporters were shocked to hear how one night, upon returning home from work, she was approached by two unknown armed men who displayed handguns, entered her residence, and made off with cash and other valuables. Holsey was scared and shaken up, but she sustained no serious injuries. “She’s a trooper,” Phares said. “She was back at work the next day.”
Though Holsey showed such resiliency, the news was distressing for her friends to hear. “I would just like her to know that we all are hoping and praying for her,” said Patricia Tacka. “What happened to her was very terrible!”
Holsey has been a beloved figure in the community for decades. “I grew up with her granddaughter and have a fond memory of eating a Sunday dinner at her house with her crazy dog at my feet,” said friend Shelley Davenport. “My favorite memory of her, however, is that she told me I should date my husband. She said he was very handsome and I needed to snatch him up. She was, and is, a very smart lady!”
Holsey’s strong work ethic and resiliency trace back to growing up poor in Baltimore. According to Phares, Holsey left school in third grade to get a job because her family needed money. When she grew up and eventually married, her husband was employed by Bethlehem Steel. He would work the night shift, grab a late drink at a bar, then return home to sleep during the day. It only made sense to Holsey that she should own a bar so that she could see her husband regularly.
Holsey owned a series of Pasadena bars before buying The Brass Rail about 30 years ago. There, many in the community have come to love the breast cancer survivor and animal lover who never drinks, smokes or swears but will always indulge in a dark chocolate vanilla buttercream from Rheb’s Candies.
“My great-grandmother is someone who inspires me every single day,” said great-granddaughter Kaitlyn Phares. “She is the most loving and caring woman. Although she is quite sassy and stubborn, it for sure is what makes her her. At 95, almost 96, she continues to amaze me every day by her drive to keep moving forward. She is loved by so many people. She is my best friend.”
Holsey has also left an impression by being an advocate of others. “Miss Edna has always been a music fan of local bands and music,” said local musician Jim Matteo. “A straight shooter with a work ethic many could never fathom, she has kept the doors of The Brass Rail open for decades. When our chips were down, she always gave us a shot. We love performing at the beer garden where the vibe is unique to them only.”
The public is invited to celebrate “Miss Edna” for her 96th birthday on Friday, March 22, beginning at 8:00pm at The Brass Rail. The party is open to the public and no reservations are required.
In the meantime, police and family are seeking any information on who assaulted Holsey. A GoFundMe page has been started to generate reward money for those who provide the information that leads to arresting the culprits. The page can be found at www.gofundme.com under the title “Help Raise Reward For 95 Year Old Ms. Edna Today!” If no arrest has been made after a year, the money will be donated to local animal shelters.
“I hope someone comes forward,” Phares said, who noted that those who provide information can do so anonymously and will not have to appear in court. “Every little bit of information helps. They just want to find who did this.”
The crime raised up many emotions for Miss Edna’s supporters and advocates – anger, shock, sadness – but it also raised up a lot of love. As Tacka put it, “I just want her to know that thankfully there are much more of us who love and are good compared to the few who hate and are bad.”