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In Memory

Ben Holeman

Ben R. Holeman 
November 25, 1940 - February 6, 2024

On the afternoon of February 6, 2024, long time Alaskan, Benjamin Rapley Holeman Jr. passed away peacefully due to natural causes at Providence Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska.  He was surrounded by his loving family and friends.

Ben was one of the first babies born at Providence Hospital in Anchorage and attended Anchorage High School, Alaska Methodist University and Wenatchee Community College.  Most of his career in Alaska was in the oil industry beginning in the Cook Inlet working on supply boats serving the oil rigs, on the North Slope for the construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline, then finally finishing his career and retiring at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. Ben was well respected in the oil industry in Alaska as well as the lower 48 for his vast knowledge and experience.  He liked telling people, “I was on the North Slope where there were only lights, me and someone else who was lost.”

Ben met his loving wife at a widow/widowers Christmas party and were married in 2002.  Together they shared their love of Jesus and traveled extensively.  Ben always said that his years with Lila were the happiest of her life.

Ben was extremely proud of his 2 sons and boasted about them often.  He enjoyed sports and good music, sharing stories of his many life experiences and was known for his love for all dogs, big and small.  Ben could tell a great story and loved to see people laugh, but his pride and joy were his two 57 Chevys.  He was a member of the Midnight Sun Street Rod Association and was well known throughout car clubs in Alaska for his cars and his ability to connect with anyone in a matter of minutes.  He longed for the long summer weekends where he would take one or both of his classic cars with his two sons to local car shows and organized cruises to show them off and talk about them to anyone who would stop by.  Conversations would sometimes go on and on as people would quickly recognize what a genuine character Ben was and how enjoyable it was to learn about his passion for classic cars.  Ben was a member of the Baxter Road Bible Church. 

If you knew Ben Holeman, you loved him.

Ben was preceded in death by his father Ben Sr. and mother Margaret and is survived by his wife Lila Smith, his ex-wife Barbara Buzby and their two sons Curtis and Perry Holeman, brother Richard Holeman, sisters Virginia Leavitt and Margaret Holeman, step-daughters, Linn McCabe and Lena Flensburg and stepson, Leon Smith.

A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date to enable the Classic Car Community to participate. 




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02/09/24 08:02 AM #12    

Joe Riordan

Ben was a friend to all and the postings attest to that.  There's so many great memories of Ben but the one that sticks in my mind the most is not so much the final outcome, but the process by which Ben worked his magic.  His ability to tell a story was unmatched.  I can still see him tell the story of whatever he was dealing with and while telling it, he would flash a quick look in both directions as if to make sure it was safe to speak, and that made you feel you were hearing something very special.  He was a friend to all, a great co-worker, a gentleman, and a dear friend.    

02/10/24 10:10 AM #13    

Neil Umatum

Ben was and expediter extraordinar. He was always cheerful and helpfull.  I first met Ben in 1975 during Material Management duties.  His helpfull demeanor kept many projects on time.  I have too many stories of his prowess to share here.  He was a good friend and coworker .  May he rest in peace.  

02/10/24 04:05 PM #14    

Pat McDevitt

So sorry to hear of Ben's passing.  What a wonderful person, a great story teller, and a real contributer to TAPS in many creative ways.  One of many memories of Ben was him in a pig costume Emceeing at Joe Wiling's retirement gathering, and like always had great stories and had everyone cracking up.  Rest in peace Ben.  

02/11/24 07:40 AM #15    

Elden Johnson

Sorry to hear of Ben's passing.  When trouble happend, Ben was there with positive, professional, and joyful participation to find the right solution.  I didnt work with him directly, but was always glad that he was around. A wonderful person and great TAPS team member.  I nominate Ben to the Pipeliners Hall of Fame.

02/11/24 08:03 AM #16    

Dave Norton

Ben was a great colleague and a wonderful raconteur. I echo Joe Rordan's comment about Ben's quick look around while telling a story to make you feel special and included. Hilarious! I wish he was still here to tell more stories. RIP Ben.

02/11/24 08:23 AM #17    

Keith Burke

Ben was one of a kind and always there to.paricipate in any way he could to move the ball down the field. Working with him was slways a great event. RIP my friend!

02/15/24 06:34 AM #18    

Jon Bose

So many wonderful tributes to Ben!  May we all be so remembered!

My favorite "Ben story" is another car tale.  Seems he was at Alaska Sales and Service to purchase a new car with a salesman that had no experience with Ben before.  Ben had a long-standing relationship w/ AS&S, as you remember there was practically no other place in town to buy a car.  Also, he may have actually worked there as a youth.... the story was from a ways back in my memory.  Anyway, as he and the salesman were working out the details of the sale, numerous managers and employees came by to greet Ben and remind the salesman to invoke the "A Deal", "B Deal", "G Deal", etc. up to and including the very best price they could offer, to the confusion and amazement of the salesman who had no idea who Ben really was.  He told me, "At the end of the day, they were practically paying ME to take the car off their hands!"

That was our good friend, Ben.  God rest you, sir.


02/16/24 11:30 AM #19    

Greg Kinney

It is terrific and fitting that there are so many tributes and accolades for Ben.  He really cared about this pipeline, and if you cared too, Ben was going to be your friend.  Of course, I'm sure he would be your friend anyway.  His personality was larger than life and he had a great sense of humor.  I happen to have recently inherited one of his old responsibilties around contingency equipment , and have thought of him often as the guy who - more  than anyone else - built the program.  Rest in peace, my friend.

02/19/24 09:40 AM #20    

Mel Jessee

Ben was such a special person. I loved every minute I spent with him over the years. Ben did so many amazing things while working on TAPS. One thing he was most proud of was securing the use of a US Airforce C-5A aircraft to fly the PS#2 Contingency Pump and equipment from the lower 48 to Deadhorse. Not something the military often allows, but that's where Ben's silver tongue and strong relationships with peole all over the world came in to play. He did it!! I only wish he was still here to tell the story again, only as he could! I love you Ben and miss you...

Here is the official description as posted in the C-5A history by the military.

July 17-24, 1979

A C-5A from the 60th Military Airlift Wing at Travis Air Force Base, California, flew two 9,000-mile Special Assignment Airlift Missions101 (SAAMs) between Columbus, Ohio, and Dead Horse, Alaska, to deliver pumping equipment needed for expanding the flow of crude oil from Alaska’s remote North Slope field through the Alaskan oil pipeline. Given the Carter administration’s eagerness to lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil imports, the Department of Transportation allowed the Alyeska Pipeline Services Company, a consortium of eight major US firms that operated the 800-mile-long pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska, to pay approximately $400,000 for the two C-5A missions. Government approval was needed whenever military airlifters were used for a purely commercial enterprise, even though the user paid for the lift. Each C-5A mission transported roughly 50 short tons of cargo and a half dozen passengers from Port Columbus International Airport, Ohio, to Dead Horse. Only the C-5’s ability to airlift outsized cargo enabled the pumping equipment to be delivered and installed before Alaska’s long, frigid winter began.


02/20/24 09:17 AM #21    

Nita McCallum

Oh Mel thank you for that news release. Craig told me of Ben telling him and Dave Bezona about a phone call. "It's for you Ben". "Hello, this is Ben Holeman how can I help you?" "Hello, this is President Jimmy Carter, how can I help you?"
The stories were not only well told, but true. Rest well Ben.

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