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John A. Holler
1922 - 2010

“The Silver-haired Fox”

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John was born on October 10, 1922 in Pawnee, Illinois. He spent his youth during the school year with his Mother in Springfield and summer’s on his Grandmother’s farm in Xenia.  

As a young man he jumped at the chance to earn money and learn new skills, so he entered the newly established Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC camps) in 1940 at 18 years old. At the CCC camps he learned to build minor roads, foot trails, and planted trees.

In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, realizing that war with Germany was on the horizon established the U.S. Maritime Service (later changed to the U.S. Merchant Marine).

In his early twenties he moved to California where he would spend the next 17 years with the Merchant Marines, traveling around the world three times. He was at sea when war broke out, transporting food, fuel, equipment and other supplies to the front lines.

On July 3, 1943 his ship, the Elihu B. Washburne on its maiden voyage was torpedoed by a German sub, three miles off San Sebasian Island. The Brazilian people saw what had happened, and as day was turning to night, people began building bonfires on the beach so the crew would know where to navigate to. Fortunately no one was killed.

After the war he continued to sail the world and in 1949, John married his wife, Marjorie, who was part owner of a bar and restaurant in Seattle - The Rainier Gardens. When John wasn’t at sea, he would be bartending or helping to clean the bar/restaurant.

After six years of marriage, they got a surprise, a daughter, Jan in 1955. John found that he had to sneak out of the house because his two year old daughter just adored him and didn’t want him to leave her for the sea. So his sailing career ended and he signed on with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in Tacoma.

In those days, working loads from ships in port was heavily manual labor (head down, ass up). About this time Marjorie changed careers and became an antique dealer, talking him into working with her when he wasn’t longshoring. He began scaling back his work with her after she had him lift one too many cast iron stoves and he developed a hernia.

On the waterfront he fared better, learning how to operate heavy equipment and cranes to load and unload cargo. He became a waterfront expert in the Port of Seattle who was well respected and liked by his fellow longshoremen. It is they who named him the “silverhaired fox.”

John retired from the ILWU local 19 in 1992 and continued living in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, for the next 18 years.

John Allen Holler’s life ended on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 7:30AM in Overlake Hospital. He was 88 year old.  He is survived by his wife, daughter, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

He will be remembered for his wonderful smile. He was quick to help someone in need.  John was one of life’s most interesting characters - charismatic and charming.

A perfect example was when he was working up on the cranes on the waterfront, he would warn his fellow longshoreman below in the hole of the ship loading the cargo onto the sling “Don’t bunch up! I don’t want kill you all at once!”


 

 

 

 

 

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