A Life Lived: Willie Holsclaw was one of Elizabethton’s greatest assets

Published 11:29 am Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Willie Holsclaw spent his entire working career with the Elizabethton Water Department and he worked his way through the ranks – from ditch digger to consultant. 
In an earlier story in the STAR, Holsclaw recalls working for 75 cents an hour. He went from ditch digger to meter reader, to general foreman, and at the time of his death was working as a consultant for the water department.
During that time Holsclaw educated himself on the city’s water system. He knew the exact location of water lines and where cut-off valves were. 
Eventually, he was promoted to utilities maintenance supervisor.
Teresa Nidiffer, who for a number of years was Holsclaw’s boss shared: “The City has benefitted so much from Willie’s knowledge and work experience. When we began updating our maps, and profiling water lines, he was such an immense help. Willie had an unbelievable knowledge of where city water lines were located and helped locate and map the cutoff valves. He could remember everything. Willie was such a wealth of information.”
Terry Chambers, another water department employee, who worked alongside Holsclaw, agreed with Nidiffer. “He had so great a knowledge of the city’s water system and was an asset to the department. I learned so much from him,” Chambers said.
Holsclaw retired in 1997 after working 40 years for the water department, but came out of retirement after 10 years to work as a consultant for the city on leak detection.
Both Chambers and Nidiffer noted that the City benefitted greatly from Holsclaw’s knowledge.
They also agreed that Holsclaw was one of the finest Christian men they had ever known. “He was a great mentor. He not only talked the talk when it came to being a Christian, but he walked the walk,” said Chambers.
Nidiffer said she never ever heard Holsclaw curse or say a foul word about anyone. “He was such an inspiration to so many people, both on and off the job. Not only was he an inspiration, but he was a blessing. Willie took his faith seriously,” Nidiffer shared.
Holsclaw was a long-time member of the Elizabethton Church of Christ, where he served as an elder.
It’s worth noting that the Riverside Community Park had its beginning with Holsclaw, who lived on Riverside Driver just a block from Doe River. The shoreline in front of his home was overgrown. One day Holsclaw decided to clear the shoreline so his family could enjoy watching the river. He cleared a section of the shoreline, planted some trees, and kept it mowed. That was the beginning of Riverside Park, which now is not only a scenic attraction, but contains a section of the linear walking trail as well as picnic tables, and playground equipment.
Holsclaw was not all work. He enjoyed fishing and hunting, occasionally played a round of golf, and enjoyed cooking. His specialty was rum cake, which he made at Christmas.
He and his wife, Leota, raised two sons, Eddie and Jeff.
A graduate of Elizabethton High School, Holsclaw was an Elizabethton Cyclones fan to the end.
Leota was a reception for more than 40 years for Dr. Eugene Galloway. More recently, Holsclaw had served as a caregiver for Leota.
Willie was one of 12 children of Fred and Susan Harmon Holsclaw. He leaves behind a brother and four sisters.
On the funeral home tribute page, many remarked about Holsclaw’s kindness and his smile, and what a good neighbor he was.
Willie and Leota had been married 63 years when he died Dec. 22 at the age of 83. He had suffered from COVID-19.
Willie Holsclaw was a true public servant, who made his mark also as a Christian, husband, father, and friend.

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