Death of an Old Friend . . .
Yesterday morning, I received the sad news that my old Scoutmaster and good friend Mr. Albert Holland has died. My brother John will perform the funeral service in his capacity as minister, and John's wife Sandy informs me:
John . . . said he visited with Mr. Holland quite a bit this past week and he was strong and brave about his condition. Told John he'd lived a good life. There was no man he needed to make peace with and he was at peace with God.Sandy also told me that John asked if I'd like to offer any words, so I wrote a reply for my brother's consideration in preparing the funeral service:
Dear Sandy,I have lost a good friend whom I had expected to see again. My Ozark community has lost a good man. America has lost an old soldier. And South Korea has lost a hero it didn't even know.
John might want to take a look at this blog entry on Mr. Holland:
The best words about him in that entry were written by Sun-Ae, who had taken the kids and visited him the summer of 2009 (when I had to stay in Korea) and had remarked on how well he was doing for a man around 90:"He uses the hearing equipment, so most of the time, he hears well. He is still very talkative and remembers a lot of things from his long life. He is a good storyteller, and what he tells is all very interesting. He is witty, wise, warm-hearted, and I really like him. En-Uk said, 'Because you are so healthy for your age, you can live until 100.' Yes, I wish him those years and more. His dog takes care of him well so do other people around his area."I told En-Uk this morning about Mr. Holland passing away, and I asked him what he liked about visiting with Mr. Holland. He liked the fact that Mr. Holland had a good dog, "Lady," who was smart and could retrieve sticks from the pond (like in the photos in the blog entry). I asked Sa-Rah also, and she liked Mr. Holland because he was a very nice man and told such good stories, especially about the Korean War.
For me, Mr. Holland began as my Scoutmaster and ended as one of my best friends. When I was no longer in the Scouts but still in Salem, he asked me to help him with some farmwork. He drove the tractor while I stood next to the tractor seat with a sprayer and doused the weeds in one of his fields. That would have been about 1974, I reckon. A few years after that, in the early 1980s, Mr. Holland and his wife lost their only son, Herman (to an aneurism), and many years later, though still too soon (in the mid-1990s), Mr. Holland lost his wife (to Alzheimers), but despite these tragic losses, he remained open to life and to people. He loved my wife and kids and felt a connection to them not only through me but through his own time in Korea during the Korean War. He had a high opinion of the Koreans whom he had known during the War, and he remembered many details even the last time that I saw him, which was last summer (2010).
I should add that he was not only a veteran of the Korean War but was also a veteran of the Second World War, serving in the Pacific as a Marine (I think). He was thus one of what has been called "the Greatest Generation," and when the Korean War started, he didn't rest on those laurels but volunteered because one of his officers from WWII contacted him and said, "We need you."
That the sort of man he was: When you needed him, he was there.
Mr. Holland was a good, decent, warm-hearted, intelligent, hospitable man, and I'll miss him every time that I visit Salem.
P.S. I hope that somebody will give his dog "Lady" a good home.
Until, perhaps, now.