John Holladay

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Professor Emeritus John (Jack) Holladay, B.Sc., Th.D., passed away peacefully at Toronto East General Hospital, late on September 23, 2016.

Jack was the loving husband of Phyllis (Graham) Holladay, who left us far too early in 1993, the beloved father of Karen (Rick Owens), Kim (Martin Lenters) and Scott (Susan Holladay) and doting grandfather to Allison, Carolyn, Lindsey, Siobhan, Kelsey, Sean, Benjamin and Simon. He is survived by his brother, Robert Holladay of Springfield, Illinois and his sister, Anna Marie Matteson of Battle Lake, Minnesota.

Born in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 1930 to the Reverend John S. Holladay and Gladys Marie Carder Holladay, who were Presbyterian missionaries, Jack grew up in Thailand, then attended boarding school in India. He returned to Thailand just before the Japanese invasion and his entire family walked out of Thailand on the Burma Road ahead of the invaders. They got out on the last passenger ship to safely run a gamut of submarines as they returned to the United States.

He married Phyllis Graham in 1953, shortly after joining the Air Force and was posted to Alaska as an in-air radar observer. Shortly after the birth of their son Scott, they left Alaska and Jack began to study for the ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Near the end of his time in Chicago, Jack won an essay contest which allowed him to work under the great archaeologist G. Ernest Wright.

After graduating with a Th.D from Harvard Divinity School, he worked at Princeton University before joining the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto. He was one of the investigators at Tel Gezer, where he supervised the excavation of the city's Solomonic Gate. Jack loved his time in U of T, one of his main achievements being his landmark dig in the Nile Delta, the Wadi Tumilat Project, in which he was assisted in both field and lab work by his wife, Phyllis. His later years included a "disruptive" study of King David, Middle Eastern trade networks and the economy of ancient Israel and Judah.

Prior to their move to Toronto, Jack and his family purchased a cottage in South Bristol, Maine. Over the years, they formed many enduring friendships in the village, which became their principal refuge and retreat.

Jack and his family joined Kingston Road United Church shortly after their arrival in Toronto, which became an important focus in their lives. He was an active choir member for decades and loved and was loved by the choir director and his fellow choir members.

Undaunted by a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer's in his 80th year, Jack continued to live his life with love, dedication, purpose and style. He continued to assist with the publication of his work, facilitated by the wonderful support of his colleagues in Near Eastern Studies and was a loving father, grandfather and friend to those around him. Heartfelt thanks to Team Jack (particularly Sally and Pinkie) for their dedicated and compassionate support through the last few months of his life.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, September 26th, at Kingston Road United Church, 975 Kingston Road, Toronto. His ashes will be interred alongside the remains of his wife Phyllis in South Bristol, during the summer of 2017.
Published in the Toronto Star on Sept. 26, 2016
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