Retired minister, former housing director, dies at 82
Family members and others are remembering the late Ed Hollenbeck as a kind, compassionate man who cared about others and who led by example, rather than admonition.
Dr. Hollenbeck died Friday at Saline Memorial Hospice House, following a brief stay at Arkansas Heart Hospital. He had recently celebrated his 82nd birthday.
The retired minister had served numerous Cumberland Presbyterian and United Methodist congregations in Arkansas. His final pastorate was at the Cumberland Presbyterian Fellowship in Bryant, where he continued to be active as much as his health permitted.
Son Allen Campbell of Little Rock called Hollenbeck a "caring, loving and inspiring father" who motivated and encouraged all of his children to "do more and to do better."
"He was a teacher in all that he did," Campbell said. "No matter the situation, he was concerned for you and had pearls of wisdom and a remarkable dry sense of humor. He always ended conversations with 'I love you,' and that is probably why I never get off the phone with my wife or son without doing the same thing. I strive every day to be as good a father to my son as Ed was to me."
Another son, Paul Campbell of Portland, Ore., reflected on Hollenbeck's "kindness, intelligence and incredible patience."
"He didn't insist you see it his way ... even when he knew you were wrong... he would quietly let you figure it out on your own, or more likely let you determine that you needed his help. Even though he could have easily said 'I told you so' or 'you didn't have to do it the hard way if you had listened to me,' he never did. We both knew the lesson without revisiting it. It is something that I've tried to learn to do in my own life.
"Most of all, he was my dad, my father, my friend," Campbell said.
He added that he has tried to emulate Hollenbeck's patience in his relationship with his own son and to "remember what he would do in a similar situation."
"For me, he will never really be gone. There will always be part of him in me and my life. To paraphrase someone more clever with words than I, I'm going to try very hard to not be sad that Ed is gone ... I'm going to try very hard to be glad that Ed happened in my life."
Daughter Kathy Allen of Russellville said she was "blessed with an amazing dad. When I think of him, I will feel his unconditional love. He was nonjudgmental and accepting of others. His ability to focus on the positive and be grateful in all situations was incredible.
"His sense of humor was remarkable," Allen said. "He always had a positive word. His positive influence will continue into prosperity. One of the last things he told me was, 'Thanks for being you.' I feel the same way. Thanks, Dad, for being you."
Daughter Karen Brannnon of Benton also spoke of Hollenbeck's kind nature. "If I had to think of a way to describe Ed, it would be 'a kind-hearted, caring man.' I never felt like a stepdaughter. He was my dad. He was always there when I needed him. He walked me down the aisle on my wedding day and then performed the ceremony.
"He was the light of my children's eyes," Brannon added. "I have great memories of him singing silly songs with them, usually ones he made up. I will miss him."
Dr. David Stewart, who was Hollenbeck's physician for nearly three decades and also a family friend, called Hollenbeck "a great man."
"It was an honor to have had the privilege of being his doctor," he said.
Saline County Clerk Freddy Burton and wife Brenda recently reflected on the positive influence Hollenbeck had on them as a young married couple.
"He was such a positive, encouraging minister," Freddy Burton said.
"And he was one of the best preachers I ever heard," Brenda Burton commented.
Before Hollenbeck's passing, Benton businessman Lib Carlisle, in expressing his concern to the family, noted that Hollenbeck was widely respected in the community.
"Everybody liked Ed," Carlisle said. "Ed was just everybody's friend."
Hollenbeck's wife, Courier senior editor Lynda Hollenbeck, said one of the things her husband was most proud of was that "all of the six children we shared received a college education."
"Education was extremely important to him and he never tired of learning," she said. "Books were treasures, as anyone who ever walked into his office can tell you. It was the equivalent of an annex to a public library."
Lynda said Ed was pleased with the service he was able to give at many churches, but also felt he made a significant contribution to the local community when, as executive director of the Benton Public Housing Authority, he was able to obtain federal funding to construct and develop Whispering Pines, a 77-unit housing complex for elderly and handicapped families.
"This was a wonderful project that was so needed and has continued to help so many people," Dr. Hollenbeck said recently.
A celebration of his life will take place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church in Benton with Dr. George Estes and the Rev. Skip Shanley officiating. Dr. George Hollenbeck will give the eulogy.
A graveside service will follow at 2:30 p.m. at Cotton Plant Memorial Cemetery in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County).
Serving as pallbearers are Dr. David Stewart, Shannon Moss, Ron Kettles, Freddy Burton, Michael Nickerson, Doyle Webb, Tommy Harris and Richard Hughes.
Visitation is set from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ashby Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to the Cumberland Presbyterian Fellowship, 2754 Mountain View Road, Benton, AR 72019; Royal Players, P.O. Box 1743, Benton, AR 72018; or Humane Society of Saline County, P.O. Box 305, Benton, AR 72018.