Ralph Manning Holt, Jr. was born in Burlington, North Carolina on September 7, 1931, the second child born to the late Margaret McElwee and Ralph M. Holt, Sr. His end of this life on October 14, 2019, came fairly quickly in the last weeks. His mind and spirit were strong to the end, but his body had become weak.
Papa, as he was affectionately called, was loved dearly by his family and those he befriended throughout his life. We celebrate the many blessings he bestowed through these relationships.
Ralph was preceded in death by his sister Catherine Holt McCormick (Cattie) and his grandson Michael M. Holt, Jr (Mac).
He is survived by his beloved wife Eda Contiguglia Holt, his four children Ralph M. Holt, III (Rusty) and wife Susan, Margaret Holt Dillon and husband Chip, John A. Holt, Sr. (Tony) and wife Mimi, and Michael M. Holt and wife Trina.
Thirteen grandchildren with eight spouses survive: Ashley Holt Smallwood (Warren), Ralph M. (Casey) Holt IV (Maggie), Maddie Holt Crandall (Justin), Wynne Dillon Nevins (Marshall), Charlotte Dillon Anderson (Derek), Claeson Thomas Dillon (Courtney), Caroline Holt Dillon, Taylor Edgren Dillon, John A. Holt, Jr. (Kelsey), Charles Davis Holt, Samuel Thomas Holt, Marguerite (Emma) Holt Maggi (Phil) and Amanda Morrison Holt.
He was blessed with eight great-grandchildren: Jackson Manning Crandall, Lillian Ruth Crandall, Harper Rose Holt, Ralph Manning Holt, V, Raleigh Grace Holt, Lucy Vines Crandall, Piper Jane Crandall and Margaret Wilhelmina Anderson.
Also surviving is Sally Davis, sister of Mimi, who moved to Burlington and quickly became very special family to Ralph and Eda. Again, to all of these, he was Papa. Finally, his sister Cattie’s family always had a special place in his heart and those ties remained close to him always with Jim McCormick and wife Susan, Catherine McCormick, Holt McCormick (predeceased) and Bobby McCormick (predeceased).
Special thanks to all who helped care for him these last days including Anna, Eric, Judy, Louise, Mai…. and especially the sweet staff of Hospice of Alamance-Caswell.
From his childhood, Ralph fondly recalled his many aunts, uncles, and cousins who would assemble at family gatherings – reminiscing about summertime on his grandfather’s farm in Southern Alamance (not so fondly priming tobacco), mischievous antics with neighborhood friends, backstage visits to many different circus troupes and ocean voyages during his teens. However, all was not bliss in his home as there was an evenly divided Dark Blue – Light Blue rivalry which split the household and which remained as a lifelong “friendly” competition with sister Cattie and her family.
Ralph attended Burlington High School and then Davidson College where he graduated in 1953. Following Davidson, he received his US Navy commission and was stationed aboard the USS Foss DE-59 in the Pacific Fleet. He then attended Harvard Business School where he most notably met his bride-to-be. Eda and Ralph were married June 3, 1957 in the Choir Loft of the Harvard Business School Chapel. They moved to Burlington where they started a family and he began his career in textiles.
Home was where the family assembled, whether at May’s Lake, New York or Sunset Beach. Ralph modeled his faith to his family with morning devotions at the breakfast table, by his heartfelt corporate prayers at family gatherings and through his compassion shown to others. He loved his family and he loved the Lord. This love of the Lord he had received primarily through the influence of his mother, our Gaga.
As the family grew to the third and fourth generations, Sunset Beach vacations established family closeness which words cannot describe – an easy-going time of eating clams, grilling meals, church services on the beach, porch-sitting days and cornhole tournaments. He loved sports and after retirement was a regular fixture at his grandchildren’s sporting events… always had the folding chair in the back of his Jeep.
While Ralph led a successful textile business, outside the workplace he served on many corporate and community boards. There his true passions could be found in a wide range of community service investments in education, Christian outreach, politics, and healthcare… perhaps most notably his service to Alamance Regional Medical Center (ARMC). Ralph served Memorial Hospital (later ARMC) as a board member for 50 consecutive years, over 30 as chairman. Teaming with others in the 1990s, he was instrumental in the consolidation and expansion of health care services within Alamance County, what today has become ARMC a division of Cone Health.
To those with whom he worked and associated, Ralph is remembered as always offering total support with high expectations, as a servant leader, as a patriot, as inspirational, as caring and as both task master and cheerleader. Over the years, he received various accolades, but he never had a trophy room for these honors… he had humility about this.
His spiritual gifts were demonstrated through the most special care, time and compassion he selflessly gave to so many. He touched many lives. Perhaps one of his most special traits was that he was a wonderful hugger of people. His warm embrace would convey his love and compassion… so often noted by those he knew.
We live in a world that by and large does not know God as Father and so we see so many pursue self-centeredness, selfishly not thinking of others first. As a Christian, Ralph adopted a different way of looking at life, he knew to be generous because God is generous. Generous in time and financial resources as he gave both, but most significantly his time. His was a life that made such a positive difference for so many.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” Matt. 5:16
Generosity is a selfless lifestyle that is God-focused and other-centered. Contrary to what the world says, there is more joy to be found in giving with the right heart than in accumulating more for ourselves. (Recognition to Dr. Charles F. Stanley)
We love you Papa…
A celebration of life for Ralph will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Burlington, NC on Thursday October 17th at 2PM. A reception at the church will follow the service.
Ralph asked that all gifts in his memory be made to The Alamance Regional Charitable Foundation, The Burlington School Endowment/Capital Campaign or First Presbyterian Church Burlington.
You may sign the online register book at www.lowefuneralhome.com.