Deceased July 13, 2017

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In Memory

Olga Zlotnik passed away unexpectedly in July 13, 2017, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. She died in her hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz., where she had been living and working since graduating law school in 2009. She was a particular person, very fastidious and as likely to be found cleaning as studying if you happened to come visiting her dorm room late at night. She loved designer purses, lovely tailored clothes, Frank Sinatra and wrestling. Olga had a frankness, wit and a unique sense of humor that left an indelible impression on those she met, she was never afraid to speak her mind and give her honest opinion about any topic ranging from personal relationships to political science. Her passing was a shock to all her knew her, and she will be greatly missed.

Olga came to Amherst College in 2000 from Payson, Ariz. She was born in Moscow and had immigrated to the United States with her parents in 1989. After living in New York City, she eventually moved to Arizona with her mother. Olga spoke fluent Russian and came to Amherst planning to study law, but she fell in love with Asian languages freshman year. During her time at Amherst, she received the Freeman scholarship to study abroad at Doshisha University in Japan during the 2002-03 academic year and lived in Porter House, participating in the Russian student community. Olga’s kindness and warmth extended well past just her close friends. She had a respect for those who came from different backgrounds and a curiosity that made her a friend to some of the more introverted exchange students on campus. Her empathy towards those so different from her was wonderfully uncharacteristic of a typical college student. She graduated with a B.A. in Asian and Pacific Languages Asian Languages and Civilizations in 2004, receiving the Doshisha Asian Studies Prize for her senior honors thesis.

After graduation Olga moved back to Payson, Ariz., and worked at a local realty office. In 2006 she enrolled in the University of Arizona Law School. While she was a student at the University of Arizona, Olga was a managing editor of the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law and focused her studies on bankruptcy and business organization law. After graduation in 2009, she opened her own law firm in Scottsdale, Ariz.   

For those who were lucky enough to get to know Olga well, they found as sweet and loyal a friend as any person could ever ask. She always wanted the best for herself and for those she loved, and she never hesitated with a word of encouragement or a heartfelt expression of love and gratitude. Olga was unique, and she was unabashedly real; there was never any touch of dissemblance or hidden feelings. I know I speak for all her friends in saying that I will miss her frankness, humor and her ever flowing generosity now and forever. She is survived by her husband (Matt LaMotte), son (Patrick LaMotte), mother (Lana Ostankovich), father (Alexander Zlotnik) and stepbrother (Boris Zlotnik). To honor her academic achievements and the importance of education in her life, her family has established a memorial scholarship in her name for graduating seniors of Payson High School.

Rachael Whillhite Viehman ’04
Fouzia Burtch-Khan ’04