Holder, John Richard (1899-2000)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JOHN RICHARD HOLDER: born Brambling Fields, near Malton, on 16th July 1899, he was a true Yorkshireman and proud of his origins. His father, a local preacher, was a farmer and coal merchant, and John, leaving school at 13, worked in both but preferred the farm. At home there were prayers and Bible reading three times daily, which John maintained throughout his life. He taught himself, reading books on horseback. It was in the fields through words he read that God spoke to him. He knelt down by the hedgeside and using those words dedicated his life to Christ. 

Some of his studying for the ministry was done at secondary school with pupils much younger than himself. Following candidature he was sent as a pre-collegiate to Hay-on-Wye. Although not very tall he was muscular and was known as ‘the strong man of Hartley Vic’, with stories to prove it! He was a man of prayer and of the Bible. He enjoyed reading but in latter years concentrated more and more on the Scriptures and was able to read a large type edition without glasses. 

He met Olive at Weobley in Herefordshire where she played the organ and they married. She was a true companion and he always read sermons to her before producing short notes. He preached until he was over ninety. He enjoyed remarkable health for most of his life, keeping fit by hard work, including gardening, aiming to have potatoes and peas for their wedding anniversary on 4th July. John cycled or walked wherever possible and when younger exercised by skipping and swimming. For many years he took cold baths in the morning, sometimes breaking the ice first. 

He was very serious about his faith but also full of fun and practical jokes, and his children, David, Philip and Elizabeth, loved his goodnight stories. It was his joy to see them all engaged in preaching or Christian work. 

He served in the following circuits, Hay-on-Wye, Richmond (Yorkshire), Hamilton, Weobley, East Dereham, Manea, Bury St. Edmunds, Barnsley West, Connah’s Quay, Bolsover, Quarry Bank and Stour Vale (as it became whilst he was there), Tamworth, Nantwich and Howden. In retirement he was active in Shrewsbury and Reading before making his home in Prees, where Olive died in 1987. After that he kept Saturday as a day of prayer and fasting, always having a long prayer list. He enjoyed fellowship with those who were like-minded of no matter what church, but was known to challenge preachers who were not like-minded. He was an evangelist and pastor and a man of firm faith and strong belief.

He died on 23rd February 2000 in the one-hundred-and-first year of his age and the seventy-ninth year of his ministry.


John was born on 16 July 1899 at Brambling Fields, Malton, Yorkshire, to parents John Holder, a farmer, and Sarah Ellen Booth.

He married Olive Rhoda Ballinger (1898-1987) in the summer of 1928 at Weobly, Herefordshire. Birth records identify three children.

  • David J (b1930)
  • Philip R (b1932)
  • Olive E (b1942)

John died on 23 February 2000 at Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire.


  • 1921 Hay
  • 1923 Hartley
  • 1925 Richmond, Yorks
  • 1926 Hamilton
  • 1927 Weobly
  • 1928 E Dereham
  • 1931 Manea
  • 1935 Bury St Edmunds
  • 1937 Barnsley W
  • 1944 Connah’s Quay
  • 1947 Bolsover
  • 1950 Quarry Bank
  • 1952 Stour Vale
  • 1955 Tamworth
  • 1958 Nantwich (S)


Methodist Minutes 2000/41

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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