Henry O. Holt Jr., 89

General Motors engineer

December 26, 2006

Henry O. Holt Jr., a retired mechanical engineer for General Motors, died of a blood disease Dec. 19 at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Timonium resident was 89.

Mr. Holt, the son of a factory worker for Bethlehem Steel, was born in West Virginia and raised in Baltimore. After graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1935, he worked for Bethlehem Steel before enrolling at General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich., the first in his family to go to college.

While in Flint, Mr. Holt met his future wife, Genevieve A. Waghorne. Thursday, the day of Mr. Holt's funeral, will mark the 66th anniversary of their marriage.

Mr. Holt and his wife had six children over the course of 20 years as General Motors transferred him to plants in cities including St. Louis and Baltimore. He rose to the position of superintendent of plant engineering for the Chevrolet-Baltimore division. He also worked out of GM headquarters in Detroit, where he helped design the company's Willow Run assembly plant.

Michael P. Holt, the couple's eldest son, said he will remember his father for his integrity and loyalty.

While in college, Michael Holt wrote a paper for an ethics class about his father's decision to give back a television that a contractor for General Motors tried to give him as a Christmas present - a gift that he felt compromised his integrity.

"He was meticulously honest," Michael Holt said. "He would never, ever pad an expense account, and of course he was an executive. He could have done anything."

Many years ago, Michael Holt said, Ford Motor Co. offered his father a job for significantly more money, but he turned it down because of his loyalty to General Motors. He also refused to sell any of his GM stock, considering it an act of disloyalty, his son recalled.

Mr. Holt retired from GM in 1974 because of chronic pain in his legs and feet, his son said, but he then spent 17 years working in the tool shop and at other jobs at Sheppard Pratt Health System.

In his retirement, Mr. Holt was active in the Knights of Columbus and the General Motors Retirees Club. He often joined his wife in playing bridge, but she said he liked to ignore the rules of the game and play by the "seat of his pants." About four years ago, the Holts sold their home in Timonium and moved to Mays Chapel, a senior housing complex in Timonium.

Visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow at Ruck Towson Funeral Home. His funeral Thursday will be at 10:30 a.m. at Church of the Nativity, 20 E. Ridgely Road in Timonium.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Holt is survived by three other sons, Lawrence M. Holt of Alexandria, Va., Joseph P. Holt of Canton, Mich., and James D. Holt of Johnson City, Tenn.; two daughters, Susan M. Beckman of Baltimore and Mary Margaret Brown of Woodbine; 18 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

The family requests that memorial donations be made to Catholic Relief Services.

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