Cover photo for Eugene E. Holley's Obituary
Eugene E. Holley Profile Photo
1925 Eugene 2023

Eugene E. Holley

May 27, 1925 — January 27, 2023

Eugene “Gene” Holley, 97, passed away January 27, 2023, surrounded by close family members. He was born in Windsor, Ohio, to Frank Holley and Margaret (Scheffel) Holley on May 27, 1925. He grew up in Windsor with his three brothers, Robert “Bud”, Carl “Cart” and Richard “Dick” Holley, working on the family farm. He attended the Windsor School and High School (class of 1943), where he developed lifelong friendships and where he met the love of his life, his wife, Elinor “Ellie” Holley. He grew up in the 1930’s depression era, and (fondly) recalls being barefoot much of the summer, when shoes were only meant for school and special occasions.

Gene was most solidly a part of the American “greatest generation”. After high school graduation in 1943, he volunteered for military service in World War II and went directly into officer’s training at Allegheny College in western PA for the Army Air Corp, subsequently attending basic military training in Miami, Florida. After taking a short leave to marry Ellie, Gene was then processed for flight training in El Paso, Texas, and although qualifying as a pilot, was chosen to be trained as a B-17 flight navigator because of his advanced math skills. After the formation of his B-17 crew in the United States, he flew to England to join the 464th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. Gene flew 7 bombing missions over Germany in early 1945 (at 19 years old navigating a large bomber over enemy territory with what would be now considered primitive instruments requiring constant attention). His last mission was on March 18 1945, one of the ”great raids” over Berlin with over 1,000 bombers participating. Berlin was heavily defended, and his aircraft, the Lady Jane, was shot down by a German ME 262 jet. After parachuting into the countryside near Hannover, Germany and evading capture for 3 days, Gene was captured and processed as a POW and sent to Luft Stalag 1, the Air Force Officer POW camp on the Baltic Sea in Barth, northern Germany. Gene spent the last few months of the war as a POW, and when the Russian forces swept across northern Germany, was liberated on May 1st, 1945, and subsequently flown to France in “Operation Revival” by American aircraft on May 14 1945. Liberated American POWs were processed at Camp Lucky Strike in Le Havre, France. After spending his 20th birthday there, Gene rode an American troopship home. The story of his crew and aircraft, the Lady Jane II, have recently been immortalized in a book by Lisa Vans in “The Last Mission of the Lady Jane II: The Life and Death of an 8th Air Force B-17 and Her Crew”.

After the war, Gene used the GI Bill to attend college, getting an engineering degree from Case University. Gene had a long career as a civil engineer in Northeastern Ohio, first as a state engineer, and then later as a senior engineer at Soda Construction Company, which he eventually bought and owned, and where he worked with several of his sons until his retirement. Most of his children can recall moments driving over roads and bridges in northeastern Ohio where Gene’s most typical comment was “I built that”.

Gene’s real passion in life, however, was for his wife and children. Gene and Ellie had a family of 7 children, Paul Robert Holley, Russell Eugene Holley, Sue Anne (Holley) Suarez, Dan Allen Holley, Craig William Holley, Hugh Richard Holley, and Mark David Holley. Somehow, he managed to not only work tirelessly to provide, but to provide an example and act as a mentor to his children. Gene, put simply, was a hero to his children. Gene would often say he had less need to read novels or go to movies, because he had the continuing stories and sagas of his children, their children, and then their children which he followed avidly. Both Gene and Ellie had a continuing participation and influence in the lives of their children, always taking interest and helping where needed, and always providing a special love which all his children knew was unconditional.

Gene is survived by 6 of his seven children, and by 14 grandchildren and 20 greatgrandchildren.

Friends and family will be received Saturday, 25 February, 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Lane Canfield Chapel. A memorial service will follow at 11: a.m. at the chapel with Reverend Bruce Irwin officiating.

In lieu of flowers the family wishes donations be made to the American Red Cross in Eugene’s name.


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, February 25, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Lane Funeral Home Canfield Chapel

65 North Broad Street, Canfield, OH 44406

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Memorial Service

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Lane Funeral Home Canfield Chapel

65 North Broad Street, Canfield, OH 44406

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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