Denver Ray Holder Jr.

Monday, April 3, 1961 - Monday, January 7, 2019

A True Outdoorsman

Photo of Denver Ray Holder Jr. - 1961-2019

Canton – Denver Ray Holder, Jr., 57, passed away unexpectedly at his home, Monday, January 7, 2019.

Denver was born April 3, 1961, to the late Denver Ray Holder, Sr., and Mary Carver Holder of Canton.

Denver was a native of Haywood County where he had lived most of his life. Denver was the Production Manager for the Roll Finishing Department at Evergreen Packaging where he had worked for 34 years. He earned his Eagle Scout, graduated from Pisgah High School, and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Denver has always held a deep love for the outdoors and has been an avid hunter and fisherman since his early teens. As a result of his love for the outdoors and for hunting dogs, Denver became active in training search and rescue dogs and handlers. He served as president of North Carolina Search and Rescue Dog Association for 32 years. He has responded to searches in 98 of North Carolina's 100 counties. Denver has also been on searches and natural disasters in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri, Alabama, Texas and Mississippi. Denver had taught at Search and Rescue seminars and community colleges in several states and had hosted several international rescue groups.

Denver also worked with the Center Pigeon Volunteer Fire Department, Evergreen Packaging Emergency Response Team and the NC Forest Service. He has responded on 15 Western Fire Details with the forest service. He also responded with the forest service to the space shuttle recovery in Texas. He shared a love for shooting sports and outdoor activities with his wife, JoEtta. Denver eventually helped to reorganize a local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Cold Mountain Strutters, where he was the current Chapter President, and a member of the NWTF state board.

Denver spent his whole life dedicated to helping others and was always one to be there for you. Denver was a good man and will be greatly missed.

Surviving are his wife of 8 years, JoEtta Holder; mother, Mary Carver Holder of Canton; and son, Zachary Shane Holder and Meggie McGuin of Florence, Montana.

A Celebration of Denver’s Life will be held 11:00 am, Saturday, January 12, 2019, at the Lake Logan Conference Center Celebration Hall at 25 Wormy Chestnut Lane in Canton. Pastor Jimmy Smathers will be officiating. Family and friends will first gather at the Boathouse for a time of remembrance and reflection. Following this special time, there will be a casual gathering and luncheon to honor and remember Denver. The Holder family asks that you join them and bring pictures or special memories to share, along with a favorite covered dish to fellowship and celebrate Denver’s life.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made “In memory of Denver Holder, Jr.” to the Canine Search and Recovery (CSAR) at PO Box 1771, Athens, AL 35612; to the Cold Mountain Strutters Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Scholarship Fund at PO Box 533, Canton, NC 28716; or to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation online at or by mail to 2049 Airport Way, Boise, ID 83705.

Crawford / Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service is honored to be caring for the Holder family.

Condolences from family and friends

It was a pleasure to have known and worked with Denver. The Canton mill and community has lost another good man too soon. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Rodney Lindsey
Denver was a good friend and co-worker who taught me a bunch about search and rescue, land navigation, backcountry survival, etc. He will be greatly missed. Prayers and sympathy to Zack and JoEtta.
Ken Johnson
Zacharyand Mrs. Holder, Our thoughts and prayers are with you .Denver was my best friend.
Bruce Welch
Denver holds a special place in our hearts. Our thoughts are with family and friends. Love always.
Kim & Keith Corzine
Denver was a pleasure to be around at work and away from work. He always went out of his way to make me feel welcome in a new job and in a new town. So sad to hear of his unexpected passing. You will be greatly missed, my friend!
Bill Cunningham
I’m so sorry to hear the loss of Denver.... an awesome leader of the SAR unit Madison and I were made better from his knowledge and encouragement.
Gail Hubbard
JoEtta and Zach, I'm sorry for your loss. Denver is a great guy. I can't say enough about what I learned from him over the years. I know that his loss is felt throughout the SAR world. I'm blessed to have known him, learned from him, worked with him and called him friend. I will never forget the night I told him on the phone that I had decided to get a border collie. I asked him if he had any concerns...he said "it's not a lab and sheep burrs, get some scissors to cut them out of his fur".
Gordon Deno
So sorry for your family's loss! Healing prayers!
Karen Baskin
My deepest sympathy to all of the family. Denver was an employee of ours when he was in school. A lot of fond memories of those days. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Juanita Dixon
Zach, we are so sorry about your Dad. Praying for God to be with you in coming days. We love you.
Leslie and Sheila King
Mary, my brother Randy called and told me of Denver's passing. I am so sorry to hear this. He was such a nice man. Please know we are praying for you during this time. I have you and other family members in my thoughts.
Sharon Burrell Candler
So sorry for your loss. Denver was a good man and friend. Praying for your family.
Donald Moore
Words cannot express how sadden and heartbroken we are at the loss of our dear friend. He will be missed tremendously by us all. Our love thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time.
Rita & Richard Plattenberger
Zach we are sorry for the loss of your father praying for you and your mother Stacy and Tracy rathbone
Stacy rathbone
I met Denver through business but our conversations ended up wide-ranging about dog training, search and rescue, wild turkey federation, and many more subjects. I enjoyed our talks immensely. My deepest condolences to JoEtta and Zachary.
Michael Johnson
So sorry for loss for Denver's family and friends. He was a Great guy as a working partner and friend. He will be missed. Sandy rector
Sandy rector
Denver was a great man. It has been an honor to work with Denver for almost 17 years and to call him and JoEtta a friend. I have many good memories with both of them. All my heart and prayers go out to you. Loved, sadly missed but never forgotten.
Cindy Capps
My very deepest sympathy to all of you. Denver and I had been friends for many years and he was on one of the good guys. May God bless and comfort you all in the difficult days ahead. May all your wonderful memories bring happiness to replace your tears.
Dawn Worley Hyatt
JoEtta my thoughts and prayers are with you all. Mankind has lost a treasure and know to call me anytime.
Joyce Cope
The class of ‘79 has lost a special friend and classmate. What a great loss we all share. Love and prayers for the family.
Cynthia Burnette
So very sorry for your loss. I enjoyed working with Denver. He was a good man and will be deeply missed.
Dee Anderson
JoEtta and Zach, I can't tell how sorry I am about Denver. His service to the search and rescue community is immeasurable just like his heart of kindness. I like many others will miss his grin and friendship. Denver rest easy brother.
Brian Fisher
My thoughts and prayers go out to Denver's family. Denver was always a professional and sincere individual to do business with. I know he touched many lives in positive ways.
Bill Spaulding
I worked for Denver for several years. He was passionate about his search and rescue endeavors. I am praying for the family that GOD will give you the grace and strength during this time.
Ronald Conner
Denver was one of the best friends anyone could have. He will be remembered and missed greatly. Thank you Denver for your friendship and memories.
Kathy Cagle Searcy
We lost a good man when Denver left us, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and many friends. He will be missed.
Dean Bradford
Joetta and Zack and Mary. So sorry to hear about Denver. We have memories of being members of North Carolina Search Dog Assoc. with Denver and Joetta. Denver was a true leader in anything he delved into. He enjoyed life to its fullest and shared that love with everyone around him. His legend will be carried on by organizations he was associated with. We are blessed to have been part of his life and Joetta’s. Johnny and Joyce.
Johnny and Joyce Cope
My thoughts and prayers to the Holder family. Denver was a good person and will surely be missed.
Wendy Chambers
Denver was a good friend to everyone. He will be greatly missed. You are in my thoughts and prayer. Barrel Anderson
Barrel Anderson
Denver was a good friend to everyone. He will be greatly missed. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Barrel Anderson
Our sympathies are with you all during this difficult time. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Denver and his smile and friendliness will be missed by so many people. He was a great person.
Ricky and Gail Paxton
The entire Holder family will miss one of the best Holders ever. His gentle kindness and easy smile will forever be remembered. Rest now from all you did for all your family and friends. Love you Cuz.
David and Sandy Holder
To the Holder family my prayer is For God to comfort each one of you Denver will be missed but his reward awaits as he enters his heavenly home Betty is Mary friend God be with you Betty Green
Dorothy sending a message for Betty Greene
I've known Denver since our friendship began in high school and shared dinner with him and JoEtta just last month at the NWTF Sponsors dinner. Denver was a man of integrity and an asset to the community, he will be missed by many. May JoEtta and Zachery lean on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for strength in the difficult days ahead.
Ken Thomas
Prayers for the family from from the Brunswick County Longbeards.
Brunswick County Longbeards
To all the family, I am very sorry for your loss. Denver was a great friend and we shared a lot of good times during our high school years. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Danny and Chris Pace
Zach and Holder family: Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time and the days ahead.
Steve and Donna Fowler
I'm so sorry for your loss. Denver was a great person to work with and for. He was a real pleasure to be around and it will be a terrible loss. My prayers are with the family
David Goodson
Denver was a great man and friend he was a pleasure to work with just sad I couldn’t have been around him longer you will be missed very much my friend.
John Owen
Our thoughts and prayers to your family.
Beauford Rice
JoEtta and Zach, on behalf of Summit Search and Rescue Dog of Ohio, we offer our sincere condolences. Please know that we hold you in our hearts and prayers. The world has certainly been diminished by the loss of Denver Holder. Those who have been fortunate to have had the privilege of learning from and working with him are so much richer. He was a great man who gave so unselfishly of himself for the good of others. We are certain that heaven has welcomed him with open arms. He will live on forever thorough those he has taught as well as those he has saved. God speed, Denver.
Lou Ann Metz
What a time we had working together many days and nights together on the N.C.F.S. Fire Crew. My thoughts and prayers to the family. It was truly a honor to have known Denver Holder. He was a good man and will be greatly missed.
Jason Moody
I am so sorry to hear of your great loss. I was in Denver’s group at SAR conferences on several occasions. He was a wonderful teacher & person. He will be greatly missed.
Jeanbe Field-Miller
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Mike and Janie Stephens - Lake Norman Chapter NWTF
I have enjoyed very much getting to know Denver and working with him for the past 17 years I will miss him very much but want ever forget him. May my prayers be with the Holder family.
David Kuykendall
Our Thoughts and Prayers go out to Joetta, Zach and Meggie, Mrs. Mary and Gail in the loss of a great man. He was a legend in the SAR community and I am privileged to have trained under him, taught with him and worked with him as a partner on numerous searches across the southeast. It was an honor to serve under his leadership as Team Chief for so many years at NC SAR Dog Association. He was also a great friend to those who knew him and a good neighbor as well. He was always there when folks needed him, including when I lost my K9. No one will ever know the tens of thousands of people that have been found because of your work and educational contribution the National SAR community. We will miss you dearly. RIP SARDAWG 1
Charles and Cyndi Blankenship
What a good friend and classmate Denver has always been. My sincere sympathy to both Mrs. Holders - Mary and JoEtta - and to his son Zachary and family.
Joe Trostel
I enjoyed hunting with Denver. He shared his love of the outdoors with my son Zac.He was there when Zac shot his first deer.We will always remember him.
Dan Pottinger
To the Holder Family, I was saddened to read of Denver's death. Tom Weil died over two years ago. Denver attended Tom's service which was held at Tom's favorite place--his barn. Tom spoke fondly of Denver when they were working together to establish the dog search and rescue group during the 1980's.
Janet Weil
The Holder family are in my thoughts and prayers.I worked with Denver back in the days of Dixon's Little Boy. Denver will truly be missed by all that knew him.
Elaine Grasty Clark