Class of 1940
2006 Hall of Fame
William Osborne Holden
Class of 1940
William Osborne Holden, "Bill", was born in Greensboro, North Carolina on April 13, 1922, to Archie Leslie Holden and Bessie Osborne. Both the Holden and Osborne families had resided in the Greensboro, Guilford County area of North Carolina for generations. Their families had a rich history of farming the land and building Quaker congregations and churches in the area. Being tied to the community, it was extremely difficult for Billís family, now with five children, to relocate to another state, Ohio, in the 1930ís, but the economic times warranted the move. If one was to travel to Greensboro today, on might travel on a main thoroughfare called Holden Road which was named for the Holden family, Billís ancestors.
Upon settling in Ohio, Bill attended Goshen High School and was an excellent student graduating as class valedictorian in 1940.
After high school, Bill worked the family farm, "Windy Hill", located in Butler County, Ohio, Fairfield Township. He also attended Wright Aeronautical School in Lockland, Ohio studying blueprint mathematics.
Bill became a supervisor for the Wright Aeronautical Company and was at that time greatly affect by the war efforts. His two older brothers were in service in WWII: S-Sgt. Archie Holden and Cpl. Henry Holden. Billís family had grown and now he was one of ten children.
Following in his brothers footsteps, on December 10, 1943, Bill enlisted and began training in the 1707th Army Air Forces Base Unit at Maxwell Field, Alabama. Pfc Holden was then stationed at Keesler Field, Mississippi where he studied to become a flight engineer aboard the B-29 Superfortress.
While home on leave on December 25, 1944, Bill married Dorothy Jean Vance, a Fairfield High School graduate. They were happily married until her death in August of 1988.
Bill continued further education and training at Tennessee Technical School, stationed in Amarillo, Texas and then stationed in Fort Logan, Colorado serving as a foreman of a machine shop. The war now being over, Bill was honorably discharged on February 20, 1946, having received the World War II Victory Medal, the American Service Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.
After the war, William, "Bill", and Dorothy, "Dottie", purchased a small hunting cabin, with no running water or electricity, on ten acres of land adjacent to his familyís "Windy Hill" farm on Jackson-Gray Road in Fairfield Township, Ohio. Houses and property were scarce after the war and Bill and Dottie set about the task of creating the cabin into their family home. In 1948, a daughter Barbara, was born and in 1951, a second daughter, Mary Beth.
In those early years of the 1950ís, Bill worked for the Thomas Food Company of Cincinnati, Ohio ushering into the area such novel products as frozen orange juice concentrate developed by a little known company by the name of Coca Cola. The first Skyline Chili was also one of Billís accounts. In the mid 1950ís, Bill joined the Seybold Paper and Chemical Company and managed their chemical division. It was at this time that Southern Butler County was experiencing a rapid growth. Area residents, like Bill, wanted to maintain their community identity as Fairfield Township. When a Master Plan published by Hamilton, Ohio, included plans to annex large areas of Fairfield Township, residents like Bill moved to action.
Billís publicity and petition drive placed the issue on the ballot for the Fairfield Township residents to decide in July of 1954. Voters approved and the Village of Fairfield was legally established. Bill served on the first Village council and when a special Federal Census determined that the Village had the required 5,000 residents to become a city, his vision and dedication saw the plan through to the cityís incorporation in October of 1955 by then Secretary of State, Ted Brown.
Bill served on the newly incorporated cityís first council and was elected as Fairfieldís second Mayor in 1958.
Billís accomplishments during his tenure as Mayor were numerous:
"Operating a municipal government comprises certain aspects of nearly every private business that you can think of. Its chief function, however, is one of service and cooperation for and with each individual".
After serving Fairfield as the second Mayor, Bill continued to serve his community as a member of the Republican Central Committee, as a member of the Butler County Board of Health, and as an Elder in the Pleasant Run Presbyterian Church. Later, Bill would join the Ben Franklin Lodge becoming a Scottish Rite Mason and a Shriner along with serving his church as a member of his session and as lay speaker.
In the 1960ís the country faced spiritual and political growing pains that saw cities including Cincinnati and businesses, including Seybold burn. It was at this time that Bill faced a decision that led him to create his own business, The William Holden Company in 1967.
Billís knowledge and education in chemistry and aeronautical background led to his becoming an aerospace, automotive, and nuclear industries quality assurance consultant. Bill had numerous articles published in professional journals including the Journal for the Society of Non-destructive Testing of which he was a member. Public speaking engagements took him all over the country and he was considered as an expert in the field of Quality Control and Non-destructive testing.
His wife having passed away in 1988, he met Judith Peckham at the Springdale Presbyterian Church and in 1992, they were married. Rvíing and working on his Fairfield, Ohio property as well as his continued business focus and reading technical papers remained his passion along with visiting his friends, family, and his five grandchildren.
Bill met all aspects of his life with vigor, good planning and enthusiasm. When asked by his daughter Barbara a few years before his death in 1999, what he as a man would most want to be remembered for he simply stated: "Ö.that I left this place, this world, a better place. That I made the path an easier path for those who came after me".
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