Remembering the Legends: John Holder
Published 8:24 am Monday, August 8, 2022
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By C.Y. Peters
John Holder was born on August 27, 1924, in Stoney Creek (Carter County, Tennessee), He was a decorated veteran of World War II, an avid sportsman, a gospel music singer, a faithful church leader, husband and father.
John was married to Ruth Scott Holder, a longtime and beloved nurse in the community, who died in 2006. He was the father of three children: John Curtis, “Jackie,” Holder, New York, who died in 1985; Diane Holly Houser of Elizabethton, married to Michael Houser, and, Father Timothy Holder, Toms River, New Jersey.
Holder was the youngest of eight children born to Alice Wilson and Curtis Holder who lived in Stoney Creek where the family was raised. He joined the United States Navy as a seventeen-year-old Unaka High School graduate and served with distinction in three continents of war; Europe (Eastern and Western); Northern Africa (Egypt); and Asia (primarily in Japan). He was the recipient of numerous commendations and honors, including a Commendation for Bravery and Heroism off the coast of Tokyo where, as chief radioman, he maintained vital communications during the bombing and sinking of his ship. Wounding the young sailor, these communications saved lives and naval craft. Holder was cited for his service in 1997 by the Honorable John Dalton, Secretary of the Navy in the Clinton Administration.
Following the War, Holder lived in New York City where he played basketball on a scholarship from Fordham University. He moved home to Tennessee where he started his family and was a sportswriter for the Elizabethton Star. He attended First Freewill Baptist Church in Elizabethton for most of his life and was a member of the choir, youth and Vacation Bible School director. Many knew and appreciated him as a base singer for the Melody Men Gospel Quartet in the 1950s and ‘60s; and, the Atonement Quartet in the 1970s and ‘80s. Holder sang on numerous albums and appeared in churches and singing conventions throughout the Southeast.
Holder worked as Admissions Administrator for the Veterans Administration at Mountain Home through the 1970s. He was active in sports as a “TSSAA” (Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association) basketball referee and a well-known baseball umpire. He was the assigning officer for many years. A former boxer, and followed sports locally, regionally and nationally all of his life. The Elizabethton Board of Parks and Recreation and the Elizabethton City Council honored Holder for his years of service to the children and young people of the community. John Holder died peacefully on Tuesday afternoon, December 6, 2011.