The sun rose on Harold H. Holden (H) Dec. 4, 1934, and set on June 16th, 2020. A memorial service will be at the First United Methodist Church at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 20, 2020 with Rick Baggett and David Daniel officiating.
H was preceded in death by his parents and five older brothers. In 2009, he was also preceded in death by his wife, and great love of 54-years, Sara, who he met in second grade and married while a sophomore in college. H is survived by his son, Scott and wife, Tammy of Ardmore; daughters, Shawn and Simone of Los Angeles; three grandchildren, Reed Holden, Brady Holden and Haley Strickland and husband, Tony; three great-grandchildren, Parker, Hudson and Eva Strickland. He is also survived by his friend, Jane Robbins of Ardmore.
H passed on to his survivors a similar go-getter zest for life and a never-say-die ethic for anything worth doing. They carry on in the spirit of a man who loved God, Family, fast cars, faster horses, an all night dance, telling tall tales, eating Sara’s chili, and sitting in the shade on Jane’s back porch sipping a good Chivas.
In order to understand and have an insight to this “Wildcatter” you need to read a quote by T. Roosevelt, H had on his desk and read almost every morning:
“It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out
how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds
could have done better.”
“The credit belongs to the man who is actively in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who
strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again,
who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and
spends himself in a worthy cause: who at the best knows in
the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst,
if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place
shall never be with those cold and timed souls who live in the
grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
H grew up on a 125,000-acre cattle ranch, where his dad worked, located up the Rio Grande River from Laredo, Texas. The ranch house was about three-miles from the river. Across the river, in Mexico, was a small town. From the age of about ten through high school, at about sundown, on some Saturdays, H and several of the Mexican cowboys on the ranch would ride horses across the river into Mexico. About daybreak the next day, they would ride back. As H would say, “for a little R & R.”
One summer, when H was 12, a drilling rig moved on the ranch to drill a well. H got his first roughnecking job. Every summer from that point through high school and college, H worked on a drilling rig, as a floor hand, derrick man or driller. As H would say later, “I learned things that as an engineer you would never do.”
H rode a bus 20 miles, one way, to school in a small south Texas town. At all levels of school H excelled in football, basketball and track, earning many local and state honors. Upon graduation H received several division 1, football, basketball and track scholarship offers. As H would say “I packed all I owned, four pairs of Levis, five shirts, three hundred dollars I earned that summer working on a drilling rig and hitchhiked off to college. The first college football game H had ever seen, he played in as a starting halfback on offense and a starting free safety on defense. Also, he had the job being the punter and then the receiver on kickoffs and punts.
Upon graduation, since H was in the ROTC, he went into the Army as a second lieutenant. H became a 101st airborne Green Beret. H soon qualified as a HALO (high altitude-low opening) paratrooper and as a sniper. H was in a special operations unit and went on missions that he could never talk about. This was in the Korea-Vietnam era. H would only say, “I went on missions and dropped into some bad places doing some bad things.” H served three years on active duty and four years in the reserves, being honorably discharged as a Captain with several honors.
After being discharged, H signed with the Denver Broncos football team. H made the team as a starting free safety. However, in the third game he broke his foot and was out for the balance of the season. As H said, “I was given a one-way ticket home.”
H then went to work for Continental Oil Company (CONOCO). H spent ten years with CONOCO, working in various engineering and management positions. He ended up in Ardmore as manager of Southern Oklahoma. After 18 months in Ardmore, H declined an offer from CONOCO to become Vice-president of CONOCO DUBIA, which would include an overseas move of the family. H made one of his many life changing decisions, he decided to resign and stay in Ardmore. H said, “I wanted to be an independent operator, play the game and see if I would win or lose.” As history has shown, H ended up with a holding company with 22 different subsidiaries; operating wells, drilling rigs, work over rigs, trucking, mud, supply and equipment companies, with yards and offices from south Texas to Canada. Some things only a few people know about H; was a private pilot; had nine energy related patents; had a black belt in karate and jiu-jitsu, participated in over 15 tournaments, winning or placing in all; was a Texas Golden Glove boxer as a high school sophomore, winning his way through local, district, regional and to the Texas state semi finals before losing his first fight.
As H once said, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chivas in one hand – a taco in the other- body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO-HOO, IT’S BEEN A LONG DUSTY RIDE.”
For many years, H and friend, Jane Robbins, would make a point of picking out a family with kids, a military person, a homeless person or others that were in need, whether it was in a café, service station, Wal-mart or on the street and pay for their need without them knowing. For those planning an expression of sympathy, H would ask that you consider carrying on this anonymous, unexpected act of kindness for some less fortunate soul.