Posted on Thu, Feb. 28, 2002

Barbara Holt-McCluskey, 49, advocate for victims of sexual abuse and assault


Barbara Holt-McCluskey, an advocate for victims of sexual abuse and assault, has died. She was 49. Holt died Friday, one month after being diagnosed with lung cancer.


Barbara Holt-McCluskey

She worked in numerous advocacy positions with Kids in Distress, the Child Protection Team in Broward County and at the Broward County Sexual Assault Treatment Center, as a therapist and counselor providing short-term therapy to children and adults.

''She was a real person who cared about her clients,'' said Mandy Wells, who worked for Holt for more than 13 years. ``She would come in during the middle of the night if she needed to. That was the unique part about her. She never lost sight of the cause and mission.''

Holt loved ice skating and horseback riding. She is described as being humble and devoted to work and her family. She spent her spare time with her husband and 10-year-old daughter.

''When she worked, she worked hard, but when she came home, she played hard too,'' said David McCluskey, her husband of 11 years.

Holt was born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where her father worked in the oil business.

The family moved to Denville, N.J., during her teen years.

Holt graduated from Monmouth College in New Jersey with a bachelor's degree and received a master's degree from the University of Dayton in developmental psychology. She moved to Florida in the late 1970s.

She was a member of the Chief of Police Association of Broward County, a founding member of the Broward Child Abuse Coordination Committee and was honored by the Guardian Ad Litem Committee.

She worked closely with the Broward court system and law enforcement, ensuring the proper treatment of victims, and placement if necessary.

''She had a good way of working with people,'' said Broward County Circuit Judge Arthur Birken.

``A lot of people figure out ways they can't do things, she figured out ways to get things done. She took care of problems right away''

She was able to find a perfect balance at work, said Wells. She was compassionate toward clients, but didn't get too attached or lose her objective.

''She made a difference. She made the world a better place,'' said Wells. ``That's what she wanted to teach her daughter, if you do the right things, you can make a difference.''

In addition to her husband, Holt is survived by daughter Caitlin McCluskey of Dania Beach and brother Frank Holt of New Hampshire.

A service was held Tuesday. Fred Hunter's Hollywood Memorial Gardens Home handled arrangements.