Harold Arthur Holz was born in Peotone, Ill., on Dec. 19, 1922. The son of Emma Amanda Johnson and Arthur John Holz, he attended a one-room schoolhouse on Peotone Road and graduated from Joliet Township High School.
He married his beautiful wife, Catherine Helen Braun, in 1952, and they raised four children, John, Kit, Arthur and Jimmy. Cathy and Hal lived in Wilmington, at 121 South Joliet St., in a Civil War-era home that served as the family’s center of gravity for 57 years.
He was a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish, where he attended daily Mass, regularly read scripture, and served as a Eucharistic minister.
“Hal," as everyone knew him, represented the best of his generation’s traits and accomplishments. He served bravely in the second World War as a flight instructor in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
He used the GI bill to attend the University of Illinois, where he was an active member of Farm House Fraternity. There, he leveraged his brilliant engineering mind and pragmatic farming background to secure two of his proudest accomplishments – a degree in Agricultural Science and his wife’s hand in marriage.
Hal worked at the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant (JAAP) from 1965 to 1990, while maintaining the family farm in Symerton, Ill. After retiring from JAAP, Hal dedicated himself full time to working the family farm, whose initial 100 acre plot was purchased by his parents in 1927.
Hal was the consummate farmer, devoting himself to his crops and “the girls,” as he referred to the cattle. Every truck Hal drove lacked a matching paint scheme and side mirrors, testaments to long days spent on the farm and his ever-present focus on substance over style.
As retirement neared, Hal partnered with “Cath” in areas of joint interest – tutoring secondary education students in algebra and English, and nurturing projects for the Wilmington Garden Club.
Hal will be remembered for his uncanny ability to engage strangers in thoughtful, honest conversation, his hardworking nature, and his caring leadership of the family that dearly loves him.
Survivors include his wife, Catherine; sons John (Veronica) Holz of Philadelphia and Arthur (Judy) Holz of Frankfort, Ill.; daughter Catherine Fletcher of Dallas; eight grandchildren, Chase Fletcher, Kimi Holz, Hunter Fletcher, Zachary Holz, John (Crissalane) Discher, Allison Fletcher, Robert Discher and J. Garrett Fletcher; brother Kenneth (Betty Jo) Holz of Jacksonville, Fla.; nephew Paul (Anne) Holz and his children, Tom and Laura Holz; and cousins Leatrice, Loretta and Chester (Beverly) Johnson.
Hal is predeceased by his parents, Arthur and Emma; a sister Catherine; and a son, James.
The family will receive at St. Rose Church, 604 South Kankakee St., Wilmington, on Tuesday, May 21, from10 a.m. until the time of the funeral service at 11 a.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated with the Rev. Steve Bondi and Deacon Don Dyer officiating. Hal will then be laid to rest at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wilmington, next to his son, Jimmy.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be extended to St. Rose Catholic Church and School, The American Cancer Society, and Wilmington School District 209-U Foundation for Excellence.
Friends may sign the online guestbook or send private condolences to the family by logging onto www.FRBfuneral.com.
Funeral services and arrangementshave been made under the direction and care of Matthew R. Baskerville, CFSP. For additional information, call (815) 476-2181.