Joe Paschal Holland was born July 14, 1952 to Dalton T. and Mary W. (Paschal) Holland in Harper, Kansas. He died March 18, 2021, in Redlands, California, as the result of falling from the wing of a parked airplane on March 6 at the Redlands Airport.
He enjoyed a small town upbringing where he knew everyone and everyone knew him. He attended Kansas State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering. He completed his PhD in Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University in 1982.
For over 45 years he did “a splendid variety of things” (his choice of words) including building nuclear power plants, developing nuclear electric deep space propulsion in consultation with JPL, micro-reactors, satellite communications and reusable launch vehicles. He was also known as one of the few nuclear hardness experts consulting on the next-generation ICBM program — known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. He was the Chief Engineer of Advatech Pacific, a local aerospace research and development company, for a number of years. Most recently, he was a consultant to Northrop Grumman working on a military satellite program. During the covid year, he and his brother wrote a book about nuclear power to educate the public about how nuclear power works.
Those who worked with him considered him their mentor and an expert in almost any subject as Joe was an avid reader of science, technology, history and science fiction. He was often described by his friends and relatives as a “living textbook”. One niece mentioned that she forgot her science textbook one time and couldn’t complete her homework without it. Ever resourceful, she called her Uncle Joe and he helped her get an A+ by telling her all about deep sea bathyspheres.
Flying was his passion. He flew with in a classmate’s plane in high school and got his own license in 1974. While at Texas A&M University, he became a flight instructor as it meant his monthly dues to the college’s flying club were waived. Ultimately he got his instrument, instrument instructor and commercial license. Getting his medical back so he could fly solo after having brain cancer meant the world to him.
After his parents passed, he took a bigger interest in the farmland passed to their children. With his brother and sister, he was seeking to make the land profitable, sustainable, and welcoming to butterflies and bees.
Joe was a blood donor, Boy Scout Leader, soccer coach, founding member of the Redlands Flying Club, and volunteer pilot for the Redlands Police Department. He attended and supported the First United Methodist Church of Redlands. And loved to downhill ski at Mammoth and Bogus Basin.
He was a cancer survivor for 11 years and ultimately an organ donor. As Joe made clear in his final wishes, “if parts of me can be used to help someone else, then use them.”
He leaves to mourn, Nancy Cooper Holland, his wife of 43 years and his two sons, Benjamin and Daniel of Redlands, California. He is also survived by his four siblings, Bonita Winer of Bethesda, Maryland, Rebecca Holland of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sara Holland-Adams of San Antonio, Texas, and John Holland of Ottawa, Kansas, siblings-in-law, an aunt, an uncle, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, their spouses and children. And a host of friends and family he chose from all over the world.
Graveside services will be June 12, 2021, 11:30 am at Hillside Cemetery, 51B YY Road, Emporia, Kansas in the Toledo Community. In keeping with his tendency to do things “backasswards” (again, his words), graveside services will be followed by lunch and a celebration of his life at the Cooper Quarter Horse Sale Barn, 2422 X Road, Strong City. Please wear close toed shoes and sturdy clothing as this is part of a working ranch. All are welcomed.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to AOPA Foundation Flight Training Scholarships at: AOPA Foundation, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, MD 21701.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joe Paschal Holland, please visit our floral store.