POPLARVILLE – Mrs. Earlora Holden, who was associated with Pearl River Community College for 66 years, died Tuesday, Nov. 18, at her home near Poplarville. She was 105 years old.
Mrs. Holden came to PRC in 1948 when her husband, the late Dobie Holden, became the Wildcats football coach.
Living in a dormitory apartment with two young children, she enrolled in classes at the age of 40. As her husband became a legend in junior college coaching circles, she completed her education at the University of Southern Mississippi and began teaching business courses at Pearl River. She soon became department chair, a position she held until her retirement in 1974.
The PRC Board of Trustees named a women’s residence hall in her honor in 2010.
“We truly regret the passing of Earlora Holden,” said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president. “The Holden family is an integral part of the fabric of this institution. While she was the wife of our famous football coach, Dobie Holden, Mrs. Holden left a legacy of her own. She was a great teacher and friend of the college and did her best to support Pearl River in every way possible. Even after she was over 100 years old, she would attend and support many of our activities and events.
“I believe that it is truly unique that, 105 years of age, Mrs. Holden was born the same year the college was founded. She and her family are a special part of the fabric of our institution”.
In retirement, the Holdens traveled extensively and gardened so successfully that they sold produce to a local grocery store. Coach Holden died in 1986.
Mrs. Holden was an active member of First Baptist Church of Poplarville where she taught Sunday school for years, as well as the Poplarville Garden Club and Delta Kappa Gamma honor society for female educators. She enjoyed oil painting, crocheting, embroidery and reading after retirement.
Doug Daniels of Poplarville met the Holdens when they first came to Pearl River and Coach Holden became an informal foster father to him.
“She was always so consistently ideal as a wife, mother, teacher,” he said. “She was just a very unusual, exceptional woman all her life.”
Mrs. Holden was a mentor to retired PRC instructor Phyllis Daniels, who recalled her gentle disposition.
“When I started teaching at Pearl River, Mrs. Holden was chair of the business department,” she said. “She was a wonderful role model for everyone. I never remember her being any different at any time. She was always just Mrs. Holden.”
Mrs. Holden regularly attended PRC Development Foundation dinners, homecoming and concerts, until her health began to fail. She enjoyed posing for photographs with the recipients of the Coach Dobie Holden Memorial Scholarship awarded annually through the Development Foundation.
She and her children are charter members of the foundation and she was a charter member of the board of the Pearl River Community College Museum. She received the foundation’s Distinguished Service Award in 1989.
“I loved working at Pearl River Junior College,” she said at the time of the dormitory dedication. “It was the highlight of my life.”
She is survived by her son, Dr. Thomas Holden of Grenada; her daughter, Dr. Carole Lund of Mandeville, La; seven grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at White’s Funeral Home in Poplarville and at 10 a.m. Friday at First Baptist Church. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. at the church.
Memorial donations can be made to First Baptist Church or to the PRCC Development Foundation for a scholarship in Mrs. Holden’s name.
Mrs. Earlora Holden holds a birthday card signed by the residents of the dormitory named for her at Pearl River Community College. She celebrated her 105th birthday in April.
PRC Public Relations photo