Longtime Soldotna resident Gerald C. Holly Sr. died Thursday, Oct. 16, 2003, at his home in Mesa, Ariz., with his son George and friend Ryllis at his side. He was 88.
A private graveside service will be conducted by the family, Friday, Oct. 24, at Angelus Memorial Park Cemetery in Anchorage, where he will be buried next to his wife, Vi, and son, Ben. A celebration of life and memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at Soldotna Bible Chapel at Marydale Avenue and Kobuk Street in Soldotna.
Mr. Holly was born March 3, 1915, in Hewitt, Minn., to George and Grace Holly. He was the seventh born of eight children to the central Minnesota blacksmith family.
He married Vi Molstre in Fergas Falls, Minn., in 1934. Prohibition and the 1929 Depression had little effect on their positive attitude to make a better life for themselves and their growing family.
Mr. Holly served in World War ll in the U.S. Navy 96th Battalion Seabees as a underwater demolition diver in the Philippines. Their motto, "We Build, We Fight," made a difference in the Pacific theater in blowing up reefs to construct safe harbors for the U.S. fleet. After his honorable discharge in 1945, he returned home to his wife and five children in Glenwood, Minn.
Mr. Holly pursued a number of endeavors to provide a living for his family. He ran a movie theater and bowling allies, owned cafes, a welding shop, a wrecker service, taverns, a taxi cab company and a Lake Reno resort, in addition to holding jobs as a truck driver and cat skinner.
He felt the urge to see if Alaska was the place for the future. In 1951, he and his brother Dave traveled the Alaska Highway and flipped a coin at Tok Junction for Fairbanks or Anchorage. The engine of the '46 Chrysler leapt to life, and when the dust settled, they were in Anchorage.
Stockpiling coal with 2-U Cat dozers at Elmendorf Air Force Base, the brothers lined their pockets with enough money to bring their families to Alaska in 1952.
As foreman for Birch Lytle and Green Construction, Mr. Holly helped build the first road in 1956 into Swanson River for Atlantic Richfield Oil Co. so the first oil well could be drilled on the Kenai Peninsula. He completed a long career in highway construction throughout the state.
He was a 35-year member of the Local Union No. 302 Operating Engineers. He was a member of Kenai Masonic Lodge No. 11, York Rite of Anchorage and the Al Alaska Shrine Club, and he and his wife were charter members of Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna.
He staked and filed for a homestead in 1957 on Whisper Lake at Mile 81 of the Sterling Highway, east of Soldotna. In 1984, the Hollys celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their homestead.
"Our family will never forget how lucky we are for the difficult and wise choices Dad made so we could have a better life in this fabulous state. He was a good dad and he would want us to say how much he loved his family," his family said.
"He also enjoyed spending time with his dog, Tuffy."
Mr. Holly was preceded in death by his parents in 1956; son, Ben, in 1961; grandson, Steve Rapp, in 1973; and wife, Vi, in 1992. All seven of his brothers and sisters also preceded him in death.
He is survived by his girlfriend, Ryllis, of Mesa; daughters, Marlene and husband, Dick Rapp, of Anchorage, and Yvonne and husband, Roger Wallin, of Soldotna; sons, George and wife, Joanne Holly, and Jerry and wife, Velma Holly, all of Soldotna; granddaughters, Janet DeLuca of Boston, Holly and husband, Ron Beach, of Anchorage, and Arlyann and husband, Troy Minogue, of Soldotna; grandsons, Kirk and wife, Dee Dee DeLuca, Peter and wife, Lois DeLuca, and Michael and wife, Carolyn DeLuca, all of Boston, Rick Rapp and Scott and wife, Kimberly Rapp, all of Anchorage, George Holly Jr., Ben and wife, Renne Holly, and Shawn and wife, Malinda Holly, all of Soldotna; and 25 great-grandchildren.
The family suggests contributions in lieu of flowers can be sent to the Ronald McDonald House at 5000 40th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105 or a charity of your choice, in memory of Mr. Holly.
Arrangements were made by Kehl's Forest Lawn Memorial Chapel in Anchorage and Melchers Funeral Home in Mesa.
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