Lance Holden, 59 helped found lacrosse store

June 23, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Lance Holden, co-owner of LAX World, a supplier of lacrosse equipment, died Sunday of lymphoma at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 59 and lived in Timonium.

Mr. Holden and Jimmy "Darky" Darcangelo, both former lacrosse players, opened LAX World at Towson's Kenilworth Mall in 1988.

Mr. Holden was a varsity lacrosse midfielder and attackman at City College high school and Loyola College. Mr. Darcangelo was a three-time Towson State College all-American and member of U.S. World Lacrosse teams.

The second-floor store quickly became a rendezvous for lacrosse novices and seasoned high school and collegiate players. Mr. Darcangelo handled the wholesale end of the business, and Mr. Holden took care of retail customers.

His eyeglasses suspended from a string around his neck, Mr. Holden greeted customers with an easy smile and patiently helped them choose the right equipment.

"He was a low-key, steady kind of guy, whereas I'm kind of hyper. It made for a nice relationship," Mr. Darcangelo said.

After working at Bacharach Rasin Sporting Goods Co. on Howard Street and then as assistant buyer in the Hecht Co.'s sports department, Mr. Holden went on his own in 1973 and opened his first Athlete's Foot store in Randallstown. He eventually added three other stores but sold those businesses some years ago.

With the explosion in popularity of lacrosse in the late 1970s, Mr. Holden and Mr. Darcangelo saw the need for an all-lacrosse store.

"We were playing around with names and combinations, and Lancer came up with LAX World. He was the guy who did it," Mr. Darcangelo said.

The business has grown to include an Annapolis store, a mail-order business and affiliates in Denver, Albany, N.Y., and Tokyo.

"People thought he was crazy trying to make a living from lacrosse year-round, but he proved them all wrong," said Bill Tanton, retired Evening Sun sports editor.

"He was also one of the very first to dye lacrosse sticks, and when you went into his store, there would be boiling pots of dye, which he used to put on school names, stripes and stars," said Joe McFadden, who has coached lacrosse at Loyola High School for 20 years.

"He was always interested in promoting the game of men and women's lacrosse," said Dick Watts, retired University of Maryland, Baltimore County lacrosse coach and president of the Baltimore Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse.

"He was a good and honest guy who worked hard to promote the game at all levels," Mr. Watts said. "We wanted to get Lance on the board of U.S. Lacrosse, but he declined, saying he was in the business of selling lacrosse equipment and it would look like a conflict of interest."

Known for his generosity, Mr. Holden donated equipment or money to schools, colleges and raffles and for awards at lacrosse dinners.

"He was a very generous and an unassuming guy who was liked by everybody, and anyone needing sponsorship always turned to Lance," Mr. Tanton said.

Born and raised in Hampden, Mr. Holden was a 1956 graduate of City College and attended Loyola College and the University of Maryland, College Park.

In college, he began working at Bacharach Rasin, stringing and repairing lacrosse sticks.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete yesterday.

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, the former Carolyn Wilgis; two sons, Grant Hughes of Manchester and Jeffrey Lance Holden of Timonium; his mother, Ada Holzatfer of Baltimore; and two sisters, Phyllis Martin and Janet Newberry, both of Bel Air.

Pub Date: 6/23/98

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