Don Harrell Holder
November 5, 1938 – May 4, 2020
Don Harrell Holder of Leawood passed away quietly and peacefully on May 4, 2020 at Overland Park Regional Hospital at the age of 81.
Don was born November 5, 1938 in Kansas City, KS to Harry Don Holder and Doris H. Holder. Don was raised in Kansas City, where he graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1956; he was involved in sports and band. Don attended the University of Kansas and was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
Don worked in commercial insurance in Kansas City throughout his career. He joined Altman Singleton & Co. and stayed with the firm as it merged and grew into a regional, national and global presence. In 1984 Don was named president of the local Fred S. James Co. office which was then located in Crown Center. While head of the Kansas City office, he led a diverse team in being a consistently profitable franchise for the nationwide broker. The national broker was eventually purchased by Sedgwick and this office continued its success under his leadership, winning “office of the year” several times. He held that position until Sedgwick was sold in 1998 to Marsh & McClennan, from which he retired a year later. At that time, Don was the longest tenured leader across the national organization.
Don’s employees and associates remember him as a leader who was much more than just a manager. He was always an advocate for his employees and customers, putting people first above all priorities.
Don met Carolyn Cahal through friends in 1961, and the two were wed in September 1963 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Don and Carolyn enjoyed many travels and adventures together in their 56-year marriage, including vacation homes in Lake of the Ozarks, Crested Butte, CO, and Tubaz, AZ. Throughout their experiences, Don was surrounded by an ever-growing set of friends and fans. Don was quick with a smile and his sharp wit, and you knew you were loved by Don if you earned one of the nickname’s he was fond of assigning to his trusted circle.
Don and Carolyn raised their family in Overland Park and Leawood and were a fixture in their children’s lives and those of their friends. In addition to his career, Don was as a supporter of the American Royal and KCPT Channel 19 auction for years and was past president of the Kansas City Chapter of the International Wine & Food Society.
Don was jovial and warm. He was a wonderful husband, son, father, grandfather and friend. He enjoyed travels, his grandsons, Kansas Jayhawks basketball and his dogs, especially his beloved Springer Spaniel, Webster.
Don is survived by his wife, Carolyn; daughter, Heather of Prairie Village; son, Christopher, and grandsons, Sam and Luke, all of Ashburn, Virginia. He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Doris, and his daughter-in-law who he cherished, Laura Majestic Holder.
A memorial service will be held for Don at a later date to be announced.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that a donation can be made in Don’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association, Mission Driven or the John Austin Cheley Foundation.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Don Harrell Holder
William (Bill) Thomas
May 28, 2020
What a shock it was to look up my old friend and read his obituary. We had lost track for several years after we both retired from the same insurance broker, but whenever I thought of my previous employer I always thought of my good friend Don Holder. He and I were the same age and had many of the same
opinions about the direction that our company was taking. When I retired the year before Don he took over my role as the longest tenured manager in the company. He was always the first person I looked up when attending national meetings. I felt he was “family” and will
miss his presence but certainly not his memory. A finer gentleman one could not find ... one who loved his friends but more importantly he dearly loved his family and talked about them every time we were together. I miss you my friend.
May 11, 2020
Don and I met a long time ago-- when we were students at (old) Mark Twain Grade school. We went thru grade school and Wyandotte High School, but lost track of each other at KU. Don was always one of the nicest boys . I am sorry to hear of his passing and my prayers are with the family!
May 10, 2020
Don was a wonderful human being. As Heather’s friend I so enjoyed his genuine friendliness and care for all of us. I’m so happy I knew him.
May 8, 2020
Carolyn, Heather & Christopher, I am so sorry to hear this news! Don was a good leader & working with him I learned many things about insurance, that helped me and my path. I'm sending up prayers for your family & it was a honor working for him. Take care, Betty Kelly
May 8, 2020
Carolyn, Heather and Christopher - My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all of you in the loss of Don. We went through so many years (22) together at James and Sedgwick, and when I retired he begged me to hold on longer so we could retire together. If I had known it would only have been two years, I would have. Those years that we worked together, I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful person to work with. I can remember our annual budget trips to Chicago, St Louis or Memphis - also the VP-Finance & Administrator/Managing Executive meetings that we attended nationwide. We always had a great time. I know that you will miss him greatly. "Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him." God's peace to all. - Bernie