Government / Politics

Council asked to name downtown lot in honor of Holte

Organizer of Holte Holiday Dinners wants lot named in honor of the events' founder

The co-chair of the Marley Holte Holiday Dinners asked that the Hollister City Council consider naming the grassy area at the corner of 4th and San Benito streets in honor of the dinners' namesake, a longtime local educator whose Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners serve hundreds of locals every year.

Ruben Lopez suggested naming the city-owned plot "Marley Holte Plaza" in recognition of Holte's contributions to the Hollister and San Benito County. Holte died in 2006 at the age of 80. His long career as a teacher and principal (at R.O. Hardin and Rancho San Justo Schools) was followed by time as a Realtor. Among his many public service efforts was a stint as mayor of San Juan Bautista.

"There has been a lot of discussion abotu that corner," Lopez said Monday during the public comment portion of the council meeting. "My feeling and our feeling is that Marley should be memorialized and should have some sort of tribute to him.

Lopez said that his even co-chair, Eduardo Servin, is a contractor who would landscape the area and build a gazebo at the site, which until the Loma Prieta earthquake 25 years ago was a retail space. It is now a grassy area that includes the city parking garage and the Hollister branch of Gavilan College.

"It would bring people together here in Hollister as one," said Lopez, adding that a recent request to place a statue of the late Eric Tognazzini somewhere on the corner lot should also be considered. "I'm planting a seed for you to consider this rquest. I hope you'll take this under serious consideration."

Because the idea was broached during the public comment portion of the meeting, the council could not take action and there was no discussion of it after Lopez's presentation.

In comments on the floor of Congress shortly after Holte's death, Congressman Sam Farr called Holte "familiar face in the community for decades, thanks to his efforts on behalf of the local youth, minorities and particularly the homeless. Friends remember him as a modest person who was reluctant to take credit for his good deeds. Marley served as president of the San Benito County Little League; commissioner of Hollister's Parks and Recreation Commission; director of the San Juan Bautista Chamber of Commerce; member of the San Juan Bautista Planning Commission; president of 33rd District Agricultural Fair Board; and chairman of the San Juan Bautista Rotary Club."

Farr noted how Holte founded the Community Assistance Program and provided free dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"He started the Christmas dinner tradition about 20 years ago after he and his wife decided to combine their money and feed the needy instead of buying gifts for each other," Farr said. "Several years later, they started organizing Thanksgiving dinners as well. The Holiday Dinners began in 1985 and have continued ever since. The annual dinners, which have more than doubled in size since their inception, are funded entirely by donations from area businesses and residents. Holte said the success of the dinners is the result of widespread community support."

To read the full text of Farr's comments about Holte, click here.



Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.