March 26, 2022 — Paul Holman, former publisher of the Siuslaw News and longtime resident of Florence, passed away on March 18, 2022. Holman also served on the Florence City Council for multiple terms and on the board of directors for Lane Community College.
Holman was born in New Orleans, La., in 1944 and later moved with his parents to Portland, Ore. There, his father, C.D. “Dave” Holman, worked at The Oregonian in the classified advertising department.
The Holman family moved to Florence in 1958 when Paul’s parents purchased the Florence News Advertiser, eventually adding publications The Siuslaw Oar and The West, which they eventually merged to create The Siuslaw News.
Holman graduated from Siuslaw High School in 1962 and from the University of Portland in 1966. He then spent the next nine years in the U.S. Air Force working as a pilot of C-130’s. Holman received the Distinguished Flying Cross during his service for the successful completion of a particularly challenging mission during the conflict in Vietnam.
After meeting and marrying Kay Underwood in 1973, and leaving the Air Force, Holman returned to Florence and joined his parents at The Siuslaw News.
In 1980, Holman purchased the newspaper from his parents, Marge and Dave. When he became publisher, he began serving in a series of meaningful public roles during the next 30 years.
Holman was an active member of the Rotary Club of Florence for much of that time, serving as president among other roles, before retiring from active participation in the club in 2016.
Holman stepped away from his publishing duties in 2000 when he sold what was now called the Siuslaw News to News Media Corporation and Publisher John Bartlett, who looked at Holman as friend and mentor.
“I met with Paul and Bev to talk about buying the newspaper in 2000. They wanted to keep the Siuslaw News as a family run business, and we hit if off right away,” Bartlett said. “Paul and Bev were incredibly supportive over the years and they were always available and able to answer any questions we had. They treated us like family, and he sponsored me in Rotary Club, and he was always there for us. Without Paul, I probably would never have become the publisher of the Siuslaw News.”
Bartlett’s daughter Jenna is current publisher of the newspaper.
Holman’s influence in the community extended beyond his work at the Siuslaw News. His volunteering efforts at Rotary and participation on two particularly notable projects have proven to be cornerstones for the city, according to his longtime friend Tom Grove.
“I became involved in a small group working on a new hospital in the Florence community, and in 1985 Paul was asked to join that group,” Grove said. “We held a fund drive in 1986 to raise $500,000, which was very successful. Paul was one of the directors of the fund driv,e which was the largest ever in this community at that time.”
That new hospital was opened in 1989
“The next large community project was to build an events center in the Florence community. Paul was a member of the original group that started work on the project,” Grove continued. “This took 10 years to put together a successful design that this community endorsed and was then built.”
As a journalist and photographer, Holman was involved in most aspects of the city's festivals and celebrations and had a keen interest in the history and growth of Florence.
“The next project that Paul worked with me on was to publish a history of the Western Lane County area, concentrating particularly on the Florence community,” Grove said. “This was done at the request of the Directors of Oregon Pacific Banking Co., who underwrote the project. Paul helped me organize the book and hired a research writer to work on the copy. I personally spent several weeks in the local Pioneer Museum selecting old photos for the book. Paul also pulled several photos from the Siuslaw News archives. Paul then laid out the book and had it printed at the Siuslaw News print plant in North Bend. The book was a huge success.”
Current Florence City Councilors Woody Woodbury and Sally Wantz knew Holman and had positive thoughts and memories regarding their interactions with him.
“Paul was a good guy, really one of the best, known for his generosity,” Woodbury said. “He did such a great job for the city as a counselor, and for the community as a whole through the years with his business and personal life. He always had a great sense of humor and a smile to great you with. I will miss seeing him around and miss his smile.”
For Wantz, she said, “I am sad to learn of Paul's passing. I recall his calm demeanor while serving our community as a city councilor. He took his role very seriously but didn't take himself seriously. His community service above and beyond council were and will remain a role model for others. He will be missed but not forgotten.”
A memorial service for Holman will take place on Saturday, April 2, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Our Lady of the Dunes.