Joseph R. Holley, age 90 and a resident of Twin Lakes Community in Burlington, NC, passed away July 5, 2018 at the Hillcrest Convalescent Center in Durham, NC, after a period of declining health. He was born Aug. 16, 1927 in Birmingham, Ala. to Eloise Honeycutt Holley and Joseph Reed Holley, Sr.
After graduating early from high school in Jacksonville, Ala., he joined the Navy in 1943, training at Great Lakes, Ill. He then attended the University of Alabama – earning a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1949. He was a member of Pi Kappa Phi and the Tau Beta Pi honorary fraternity.
On Jan. 14, 1950, he married Joyce “Rusty” Luker of Montgomery, Ala. She was the love of his life and they were married for 65 years before her death in 2015. In 1952, he was called to serve in the US Army Air Core and graduated third in his class from The Engineer Officers Candidate School in Fort Belvoir, VA. In his Army days, they traveled across America and throughout their years together, they loved to ski, play tennis and bridge, and camp (as much as possible). After the Army, he began a long career in textiles with Vanity Fair Corp. in Jackson, Ala.
Joe was a brilliant engineer, thinker and lifelong learner. At Edwards Air Force Base, he helped design and build runways for experimental aircraft. Later, as he neared retirement, he worked with DuPont Corp. to create a desert camouflage fabric that could conceal military vehicles from aerial surveillance. For most of his career, Joe worked as a textile plant manager and engineer, in Ala., SC, NC, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. He designed machines and fabrics for many corporations around the world, including Vanity Fair, Lee and NorthFace.
Joe loved dogs, especially cocker spaniels, and devoted much of his retirement time to canine rescue organizations. He was also an avid woodworker, history buff, music lover, dulcimer builder and dulcimer player. He was a blacksmith, restorer of old southern grist mills and a grits expert. He loved to read and learn, right up until his last few weeks on earth.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Joyce Luker Holley; his parents; and a sister, Julia Holley. He is survived by two daughters, Stephanie Townsend Robertson (Dave), and Pamela Granade (Doug), of Chapel Hill, NC; his son Joseph Gregg Holley (Caren Pituck) of Solomons Island, MD; and grandson Zachary Alan Townsend of Wilmington, NC.
A private family memorial service will be held July 22, 2018 in the Sullivan Botanical Woods Memorial Garden at Twin Lakes. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to your favorite animal rescue organization or the Alamance County Library Outreach Program.