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John Hillard Holbrook
02/10/1947 — 10/16/2023
From Richland, WA | Born in Harlan, KYWatch Service
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John Hillard Holbrook
John Hillard Holbrook, 76, of Richland, Washington, went to his Heavenly home on October 16, 2023. Born on February 10, 1947, in Harlan, Kentucky, John was a master of wit and never met a stranger. He had a talent for remembering the name of everyone he met.
He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati and completed his masters and PhD at Stanford in material science engineering. Since graduation, John remained an avid Stanford fan, and occasional Mariners fan – if they were winning.
In his professional life, John excelled as research scientist and project manager for Battelle for 30 years. After retirement, he teamed with colleagues to create NHThree, a research company with the goal of using ammonia as a zero emissions fuel source.
After moving to the Tri-Cities in 1994, John fell in love with the area. He loved to go tent camping on the John Day River and had a favorite camp site that he named “Camp Return”. He walked his dogs every day – rain or shine – at the various parks surrounding the rivers here. He developed a taste for the local cuisine, and he enjoyed supporting the local breweries and wineries.
John was a devoted family man. His “Donna dear” was the light of his life and he was very proud of his children, Jeremy and Jaime. He had a huge soft spot in his heart for dogs and we know he is thrilled to be with his fur babies Scruff, Sammy, Shadow and Scout over the Rainbow Bridge.
He and Donna were devout members to C3 Tri-Cities Church for 24 years. He was known for having a good ear as well as a great sounding stereo. He found a way to share his passion by volunteering as the A/V engineer at C3.
A Celebration of John’s life will take place at Events at Sunset, 915 By Pass Hwy, Richland, WA 99352 on Thursday, October 19 at 10 AM. His ashes will be spread at Camp Return at a later date.
He was preceded in passing by his mother Virginia Holbrook, his father Hillard Holbrook, his brother Ron Holbrook, and niece Melissa Degaro. Survivors include his wife Donna Holbrook, son Jeremy Holbrook (Jennifer), daughter Jaime Holbrook, half sister Sally Major (Larry). step children Ron Kaul (Norma) and and Randy Brewer (Jamie), 8 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren.
I am very sorry to learn of John’s passing. John and I both worked for Battelle in Columbus, Ohio. I knew him well and respected him as a scientist and manager. I transferred to PNNL in 1992 and knew John did as well. While we did not work together in Richland, our paths often crossed. He will be missed not only by his family but by his former colleagues as well.
From our first contact in 2005 until the present, your impact on my professional life has been, and continues to be, profound. I will also always remember your calm, optimistic manner as well as your incredible kindness. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. Until we meet again.
Godspeed, my friend.
In November of 2019, I was searching for my mother’s biological father on Ancestry.com. A young woman came up as a close match and could only be (by age, my mother’s niece). This set me off on an investigative adventure culminating in finding out that she was in fact the daughter of my mother’s younger brother. I wanted to make sure that he was open to talking to my mom before I gave her the news, so I nervously called, hoping that he wouldn’t think I was crazy or that it was a prank. We had a very nice conversation, he was hesitant, but not closed to the idea that he had a sibling that he never knew of. From that call forward I fondly referred to him as Uncle John. This past summer my mother and I flew out to Richland WA to meet him for the first time. Mom was nervous, would he like her, would they look alike, what do you say to a brother you have never met before.
When we arrived at John and Donna’s home they greeted us with flowers and giant hugs. We spent several days with them, talking about John’s upbringing and his family. He was the sweetest man. So funny, but in a very subtle way. He wanted to know about us and our family and we had some great laughs and stories to share. On the way home to Boston, we talked about going out again to see him and Donna. We even recently talked about going in the spring, as Mom’s travel might be slowing down (don’t tell her that) and we knew he wasn’t feeling well physically.
I have some great pictures of him with both of us and will cherish them and our short time spent together.
Uncle John, I know you are no longer in pain and that you are undoubtedly cracking jokes with those you love that are with you in Heaven.
I am said I will not get to see you again, but am so grateful that we had the opportunity to meet you. Until we meet again. XOXO
Donna, Jeremy and Jamie. My heart hurts for you all. Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.