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Science magazine staffer killed in motorcade route accident

Constance Holden
Constance Holden (Family Photo)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gridlock was not often among the worries of Constance Holden, so dire predictions that it would tie traffic in knots this week near her downtown office didn't change her routine.

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She would, as usual, ride her bike to work.

At 68, she biked about 3 1/2 miles from her home in Mount Pleasant to her office on New York Avenue NW most days when the weather allowed.

"She had an old-style upright bicycle," said Colin Norman, editor of Science magazine, where Holden had been a writer since 1970.

With dozens of world leaders in town for the Nuclear Security Summit, which began Monday and ended Tuesday, major traffic hassles were expected, and cycling looked to be one of the best ways to get around town for those comfortable in the saddle.

But Holden's ride home on Monday ended with her bike and body crushed as she set out from the office by a truck assigned to guard the motorcade route.

Holden, known to friends as "Tancy," complemented her red hair with bold red glasses.

"She was unique person, very warm, lively," Norman said. "She was never afraid of confronting conventional wisdom. She had two pianos in her house, and she used to play duets."'

She was also an accomplished painter.

Friend and Science magazine colleague Eli Kintisch had a special word for her.

"She was absolutely sui generis, which means unique," Kintisch said. "It is a devastating day in the lives of all of us."

Ginger Pinholster, spokeswoman for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, parent body for Science magazine, said Holden was "highly regarded for her coverage of biological and genetic bases of human behavior."

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