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Donald Lutz
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Harold Holen

February 25, 1935 ~ September 07, 2018

Harold “Hal” Hampton Holen passed away on September 7, 2018, in Bozeman, Montana, at the age of 83.  He was born on February 25, 1935, in Big Timber, Montana, the youngest of the four children of Elias Holen and Jimmie Curtis Holen.  As a child, he worked on the family ranch on the east fork of Sweet Grass Creek, taking care of livestock, fencing the property, and tending to a variety of ranch chores.  He rode his horse every day to the one-room rural school that was located 3.5 miles from home.  In 1948, the family sold the ranch and moved into Big Timber where Hal was active in basketball, baseball, and track and graduated from Sweet Grass County High School in 1954. 

Hal served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1958 and was stationed in Texas, Colorado, Washington and Pennsylvania.  While stationed overseas as a medic on Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands, in the western Pacific, he witnessed, at close range, two U.S. government nuclear test bomb explosions. While he was grateful for the GI Bill and the educational opportunities it would provide, he never forgot that his government left its enlisted men to endure the consequences of nuclear radiation exposure at a time when it was recognized that such exposure was harmful.

Upon discharge from the Army, Hal attended Montana State University and earned his BS, Masters and Doctors degrees, finishing his last degree in 1970.  He passed the CPA exam, and between degrees, he spent one year working as a CPA for a large firm in Los Angeles before deciding that Montana would always be home and returning to Bozeman to complete his education. Also during these years, he met Verna Brown, a Big Timber school teacher, and married her on December 23, 1962.  Their whirlwind 3-month courtship led to a marriage of almost 55 years and a lifetime of great adventure.

Hal’s career included two years teaching at Sweet Grass County High School and a year teaching at Dawson Community College in Glendive, where his daughter, Leslie, was born in 1964.  The majority of his professional life was spent at Montana State University where he started teaching tax accounting in 1965. His daughter, Hayley, was born in Bozeman in 1969.  Hal’s career culminated in his appointment as head of the accounting department, and he retired from the university in 1988.

Following his retirement, he worked for the International Executive Service Corps and participated in contracts with the U.S. Department of State to provide professional technical assistance to the developing world. He taught tax accounting in former Soviet countries, and developed a love of travel that eventually took him and Verna to every continent but Antarctica.  Hal was an avid fisherman, hunter, gardener, and, perhaps most of all, reader. He spent part of everyday reading, with a particular interest in war and military history, biographies of political and entertainment figures, and the classics.  While he enjoyed his professional career and world travels, Hal remained a “ranch kid” at heart, and was always in motion, finding something to repair, build, paint or plant.  It’s finally time to take a break, Dad, enjoy your well-deserved rest.

Hal was preceded in death by his wife, Verna, his parents, and two siblings – Elias and Ima Jean.  He is survived by his daughters, Leslie (Tom) and Hayley (Steve); his grandchildren, Zachary, Abigail and Hughston; a brother, Herb; and several nieces and nephews.

Our thanks to the staff at Spring Creek Inn and Bozeman Hospice for all their care during these past months.  At Hal’s request, there will be no services.

In lieu of flowers, a donation in Hal’s name to the Big Timber library would be appreciated. Donations can be made to The Friends of the Big Timber Carnegie Public Library, P.O. Box 846, Big Timber, MT 59011.

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