Obituary: Doctor William “Bill” Holm

Doctor William “Bill” Holm
Doctor William “Bill” Holm
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October 18, 1937 – March 9, 2022

Doctor William “Bill” Holm died at 3:04 a.m. on March 9, 2022, fitting for a night owl. An intelligent, kind, humble doctor who loved hockey, jazz, and helping his many patients. Many of his patients were like family to him and some even became family to his children.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN on October 18, 1937, he was the only son of William and Dorothy Holm. He spent much of his youth skating up and down the frozen rivers with friends as a speed skater, and then as a hockey player. Only a few people knew that his signature mustache covered a hockey puck scar. Bill regularly played hockey on many teams every year from his youth up into his 80’s, he played defense and sometimes forward, and he loved the camaraderie of the guys on the bench and certainly the fun stories and beers shared after games. He looked forward to getting drafted to the league teams each year. Hockey people are good people, as the saying goes. If he played hockey with you, he loved you and held you in high regard. When asked why he played hockey so long, he simply replied, “Because I can.”
A self-made man and the first doctor in the history of his family, he joined the army straight out of high school and worked heavy equipment overseas. He married his high school sweetheart, Summer Holm, while on leave during one Christmas and when he returned from the army, he attended the University of Minnesota for his undergraduate Engineering degree, and for his medical degree. When he completed his engineering degree, one of his teachers suggested that he might be a good doctor and told him he would need to take a language to get into medical school. Of course, Bill never chose the easy route, so he spent the summer learning the Russian language and then started medical school that fall. While in medical school, he welcomed his first-born child, Winter, whom he doted over while finishing his degree and he loved watching her ice skate. A few years later he welcomed his second child, a son named Bill, who always impressed his dad with his quick wit and personability.
Dr. Holm came to Vail in 1969 after his wife, Summer, found an ad in Ski Magazine for an emergency room doctor in Vail. He and Summer packed up the family in the station wagon and headed west to join Dr. Steinberg to treat the patients in the valley. He was later joined by the other doctors who would become his brothers, Bill Bevan, Jack Eck and Jerry Dooher. Bill was the first president, and chief of staff of the hospital, and tirelessly worked for his patients night and day. He had an amazing capacity for diagnosing illnesses even with the most subtle signs. He never hesitated to help anyone regardless of their ability to pay often taking a payment in rellenos, golf balls or some other form of acknowledgement. He would drop everything including his golf game to come and treat a patient and often made house calls. He was multifaceted and could stitch you up and then help you put in a car stereo. Many throughout the early days of Vail received medical treatment from him over their kitchen tables. He was empathetic, regularly donated to support youth playing hockey, and known for his incredibly warm bedside manner. Bill welcomed his third child, a daughter, named Courtney, in the mid 70’s after a police escort to the hospital. He loved to tell the story that he thought Courtney was going to be a boy and was looking forward to another hockey player, but when the nurse congratulated him on his baby girl, he said, “Oh S***,” but he was delighted later when she also played hockey. A Minnesota Golden Gopher through and through, he would not even cheer for DU Pioneers if they were playing the Gophers, to his daughter’s dismay.
He valued all his work colleagues and all his patients from the likes of President Ford, bank presidents, ski patrolmen, and even local trickster Packy Walker, all of whom he developed close friendships with. He had a special place in his heart for the Ski Patrolmen with whom he worked closely for accidents on the mountain and patient treatment, and , in those days the patrolmen often drove the ambulances to the clinic or to Denver. It was common for all the docs, ski patrollers, and locals to play pickup games of hockey on the makeshift ice and Bill often stitched players up on the bench.
Friday, March 26, 1976, when two of the cars on the Lion’s Head gondola fell 125 feet to the ground Bill quickly sprung to action quickly mobilizing forces on the ground. One patrolman gave Bill his size 12 boots to wear in place of his loafers since the call came unexpectedly. Bill always said how much he appreciated Chupa Nelson having the guts to climb along the gondola wire to help evacuate those that could be saved, and Bill worked to improvise the small clinic facilities to stabilize patients. Bill was always grateful and always felt so lucky that he got to work with his best friends, Bill Bevan, Jack Eck and Jerry Dooher, they spent many a night hitting their spray-painted glow balls in the dark at Vail golf course and playing just has hard as they worked.
Bill changed specialties and became a pathologist in the 1980’s and spent significant time helping underserved populations and figuring out difficult cases and helping other doctors diagnose puzzling cases. Bill was a great athlete, a beautiful skier and phenomenal golfer despite using his “archaic 1960’S Clubs” up to his dying day and his kids would tease him about the age of the clubs to which he responded, “it’s not the equipment it’s the operator.” He continued to golf and attend sporting events with his three kids whenever they could. In some of his parting words, Bill said,” I am sure there is hockey, golf, and beer in heaven.” So, raise a glass to the doctor, a truly standup guy.

William A. Holm is survived by Summer Holm, his children Winter Holm, Bill Holm, Jr. and his wife (Myoung Holm), and Courtney Holm and her husband (Matthew Mymern). We know that he is up above blasting his jazz, eating cookies and drinking beer. A memorial will be planned at a later date and donations may be made to the Colorado Ski Museum in his name or to support youth hockey.

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