- OBITUARY -
Former Curator of the Hampton Historical SocietyDecember 16, 1928 - February 11, 2020
Seacoast Online -- February 20, 2020
HAMPTON -- The town is mourning the loss of John Holman, a man who was remembered for his love of Hampton, who showed it not just in written words but in his actions.
The former curator of the Hampton Historical Society, longtime Lane Memorial Library volunteer and writer of “Historical Happenings” for both the Hampton Union and Atlantic News, died Feb. 11 at age 91.
Holman grew up on the family’s Wayside Farm on Mill Road, graduating from Hampton Academy in 1947. He spent his career in management with local supermarkets but was better known for his volunteerism and community involvement later in life.
It is because of Holman’s volunteer work at the library that Hampton’s history has been preserved for generations to come via the Hampton History section found on the library website.
What started as a volunteer job a couple hours a week in 1997, turned into a full-time gig lasting 19 years.
Holman’s job entailed converting printed historical documents into computer form, including typesetting Peter Randall’s 847-page “Hampton: A Century of Town and Beach, 1888-1988” and posting chapter after chapter to the website. “It started as volunteer job but it grew to larger work to the extent that by the time he left he had his own office,” said Lane Memorial Library Director Amanda Reynolds Cooper. “He was a part of our staff and part of the library family.”
So much so that library officials said he was remembered for “spreading good cheer” around the building, assisting with special events in the children’s room like organizing a “Washington’s Birthday Party” and even occasionally wielding a hammer and screwdriver when something needed to be fixed.
Former Atlantic News community editor Elizabeth Premo said she first met Holman in 1999 while working at the now-shuttered weekly paper. “That work-related interaction soon became one of good friends meeting over breakfast every week, and it continued for close to two decades,” Premo said. Premo described Holman as “kind, thoughtful, generous, funny - a faithful volunteer and a hard worker” who “loved promoting and preserving Hampton history.” “John Holman pretty much created a history of his own, and he will be greatly missed by so many,” Premo said. “Our town is all the more richer for having had him live out his life as a true Hampton original.”
As a writer, Holman penned numerous articles on Hampton’s history including one detailing the fire that destroyed the historic town hall, another on how the Lady by the Sea monument came to be, and even one on Hampton’s unique submarine of the 1920s.
Cheryl Lassiter, who followed in Holman’s footsteps by writing a history column for the Hampton Union, said as curator of the Hampton Historical Society, “John laid the foundation.” Holman served as co-curator of the Tuck Museum with his wife Connie from 1970-83 and was a donor of many items that were added to the museum’s collection over the years. “I mentally thank him every time I use the library’s website for research,” said Lassiter. “His long hours of unpaid work and his dedication to preserving the history of Hampton, both as curator of the Hampton Historical Society and as a library volunteer, are gifts we should all treasure.”
Holman not only gave to his town but also his country. He served in the 28th Infantry Division of the Army stationed in Germany from 1951-1953 and was a member of the American Legion Post 35 for 67 years.
Post 35 Commander Berk Bennett said Holman was the chaplain for many years and worked to ensure all veterans who died during the war were recognized by the naming of streets, parks and playgrounds in their memory. Holman would also faithfully place and replace the small American flags that are found on veterans’ graves in all of Hampton’s cemeteries.
Over the years, Holman received many accolades including being named the N.H. Municipal Association’s Volunteer of the Year in 2003 and Hampton Rotary’s Citizen of the Year in 2005.
Holman was predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Constance (Purington) Holman, in 2009, son Mark in 1981 and brother William in 1998. He leaves behind his daughter Melanie Caruso and husband Frank, two grandchildren and three great-grandsons.