December 15, 2022
Bud L. Holten, respected educator and master storyteller, passed away at age 89 on December 7, 2022.
Born in 1933 to a railroad drawbridge tender and a famous local cook, Bud was a product of Raymond, Washington. He played football and enjoyed a successful basketball career at Willapa Valley High School. From there he continued to Centralia Community College where he met the spirited and caring Noreen Smythe, whom Bud described as being “A good gal.” The two soon married, and Bud took a position as a telegraph operator for the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway until he joined the United States Army in 1954 following the birth of their first child. Bud took his young family to Munich, Germany, where he was stationed as a lineman stringing wire for the reconstruction of Europe. Bud and Noreen cherished their time in Germany and the lifelong friends they made there—and of course the beer.
After concluding his military service, Bud continued his education at Western Washington University under the GI Bill. Bud completed his degree of Bachelor of Arts in Education, and in 1959 he moved his family to Skamokawa to take a position as teacher, bus driver, coach, and principal. They lived right next to the venerable Skamokawa School Building with the school playground as the back yard and the Columbia River on the doorstep. Bud especially loved his time in Skamokawa and the dear friendships his family forged in its valleys and the river’s bend. He was an avid fisherman, clam digger and hunter. He often claimed that if the house caught fire, he would save his prized stuffed 4-point buck once he got the family out. He also cut inordinate amounts of wood and prided himself on the sheer acreage of his woodpile. The family thrived in Skamokawa until the Skamokawa School and its student body merged with the Wahkiakum School District.
In 1968 the family left Skamokawa and moved to the farm on Greenwood Road in Cathlamet, where he would build his own house on the top of the hill with sweeping views of the Elochoman Valley and the Columbia River. Bud continued as a 5th grade teacher in Cathlamet for the rest of his illustrious career. As an educator, he was well known for his high expectations for his students and has been credited by many former students as having turned their lives around. He was famous for his Bigfoot lore, hot air balloon launches, and field trips to the Washington Park Zoo, along with his punitive “I hereby resolve…” sentences for those who made the unfortunate choice to misbehave during instruction. He used his humor and a tough love approach to teaching to instill integrity and a hard work ethic in his students. He respected every student as an individual and always found a way to pull out their gifts. Bud remembered every student he ever taught and could recognize them even decades later. Bud and Noreen staunchly supported Mules athletics and the schools in general, and they attended sporting events long after their own children had moved on.
Bud retired after 34 years of dedicated service to his students and families. He spent many of his retirement years fishing and hunting while able to do so from his humble hilltop home, joking that with the cemetery just down the road, he would never leave the hill.
Bud worked hard to provide for his family throughout his life. During the summer break, he drove a dump truck building logging roads, he filled in for Red the Plumber for a summer, and he worked for the Puget Island Diking District to make sure the bills got paid. In addition to hard work, Bud spent a great deal of time making rounds to look after numerous friends and neighbors who could use a little help. He loved to share the fruits of his farm and his garden while visiting with folks in the nursing home and all over the county.
Bud was predeceased by his brothers Rick and Jake, and by his beloved wife and best friend, Noreen. He is survived by daughters Nancy and Janet, and sons Daniel (Kris) and Michael (Kristin), along with seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren (and one more due in April).
The family plans to host a celebration of life for Bud at the family farm at a later date. In lieu of donations, Bud had requested that folks donate blood.
Finally, upon reflecting on his life Bud declared, “I had a good trip through.”
- Paid Obituary -