Posted by John White
A Tribute to Art Holst
On December 19, 2018, we lost one of the greatest of the Greatest Generation. We lost an example to live our lives by, a great veteran, a great patriot, a great friend and a great Rotarian. We lost Art Holst who was in his 97th year. Art was with the love of his life, Elizabeth, at their winter home in Ft. Myers. Art and Elizabeth merged their families later in life; Art will be dearly missed by Elizabeth, and their admiring family.
Art will leave us all with so many memories. What is your favorite memory of Art? I bet you have several.
From humble beginnings in rural Illinois, Art faced the great depression when he was 8 years old. He loved to tell the story of lining a cardboard box with insulation, adding a bit of dry ice along with ice cream bars which he sold to office workers in the summer heat and humidity. He made a few cents on each, but at the end of each day it was enough to help the family move forward.
Art served in General Patton's Third Army, arriving in Europe near the end of the war but in time to be part of the liberating of a concentration camp, an experience that would have a profound impact on anyone, including Art. He lost many close friends in battle but he never lost those names and memories of them; he could recall them readily.
Captain Holst took custody of an English speaking German POW. Art came to trust the POW as his translator, and the POW came to trust Art as his protector. The two were reunited in Frankfurt in the 1970's ; they enjoyed dinner together, and communicated for years thereafter.
Art officiated basketball, an enjoyable pastime that eventually led him to officiating in the NFL, including in two Super Bowl games. He loved it! He was on first name basis with many of the top NFL coaches and players of the latter part of the last century.
Art was a public speaker, with skills he has shown us in Rotary on numerous occasions.
Art was an author. He recently finished a book of poetry, much of which he authored himself. He had a remarkable ability to recite extensively from memory. There is a link below to Art reciting one his favorite poems, "Freedom Isn't Free."
Art was a friend. I had the good fortune to know him for about the last dozen years of his life. You may have known him longer. He called me just a couple of days ago. He was very pleased with his trip to the recent Army/Navy game in Philadelphia. He had been invited to speak to a group of officers the evening prior to the game. He told me the organizers came to him at the last minute with news that one of the other speakers was ill and could not attend, and could Art possibly speak longer than planned. We both got a laugh out of that one.
I am sure many of us saw Art in his role honoring his fellow Veterans at the Veterans Day events at Hill Auditorium over the last few years. Speaking from the podium at Hill had long been on his "bucket list." Thanks to Karen Kerry along with Brad Chick and many others as organizers of the Veterans events as they enabled Art to fulfill this wish. A close adjunct to that event is the "Fisher House Michigan" initiative which is moving close to groundbreaking in the spring. It was Art's strong hope that he could be part of that ceremony.
When those shovels are turning the soil next spring, Art will be with us in spirit!
Art was always upbeat. I cannot remember a time when he was "down." Art was uplifting to all of us and he will be missed. He provided us with the consummate example of "a life well lived."
 - One of Art's many friends and admirers
Here is the link to "Freedom isn't Free"
p.s. Art was a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and a member of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor since 2001. With prior memberships in Albuquerque (1994-2001) and Peoria (1957-1994), his career in Rotary totaled over 61 years!
p.p.s. A service for Art in Ann Arbor is being planned for the spring.