Joseph Val Holbrook
Our fun loving, jokester, overall wearing, mountain man left us for his heavenly mountain on August 18, 2020 after complications following a stroke.
Graveside services will be held at the
Manila City Cemetery
460 N 4th E, Manila, UT
On Friday, August 28, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Val’s name to Primary Children’s Medical Center.
Val was born on October 27, 1932 the oldest of four children born to Joseph Ellis (Buck) and Mildred Burton Holbrook.
He was raised on the family farm in Syracuse, Utah, where even as a small child he helped with chores; thinning beets, milking cows before and after school, driving tractors, irrigating and much more. A great deal of his work on the farm was done with horses such as plowing as tractors were hard to come by in his youth. When he was a child he was enthralled with the Threshing Machine at harvest time and thought it would be great to be an operator. But as time went on the horses were replaced by the steam engine and this took the exhilaration out of it for Val. His love of farming and animals continued into his adult years as he continued helping with the Holbrook family farm, the Burton Farm in Kaysville, and the Mortenson Ranch in Morgan. Then in 1965 he purchased a five acre farm on 700 South in Syracuse and in 1972 he sold this home and small farm and purchased an 18 acre farm on 1000 West in Syracuse. On this farm he and his family raised a half acre vegetable garden, alfalfa, corn, onions, chickens, Angus steers, and horses.
When Val was a child his best buddy was his Grandpa Holbrook who just happened to be the Sheriff of Davis County. The mornings his Grandpa was available, he would pick Val up in the squad car to drive him to school with the lights going then turn the siren on at the front door of the school to announce his arrival. For a young boy this was the “cat’s meow” as Val would say. Grandpa Holbrook was also in charge checking on the progress of the CCP (Civilian Conservation Corps) in Davis County during the depression years. Once or twice a month there was a local supermarket that would take donuts to the CCP camps as a treat for the workers. Donuts during the depression were quite a treat, and Val really loved them, this Grandpa Holbrook knew. So he would make sure to do his progress checks on donut days and take Val with him. Val loved this! He loved any one on one time he got with his Grandpa. He was always so proud of his Grandpa being the Sheriff, how diplomatic he was and how he did not regularly carry a gun, he would have one in the squad car or at home that he would grab if he thought he would need it, but not carry one on his person very often.
One day when Val was about 7 years old he was with Grandpa Holbrook in his shed when he spied some traps that Grandpa had confiscated from a poacher he had arrested. Upon inquiring about them Grandpa asked if he would like them, to which Val quickly agreed. Grandpa helped him get started and taught him the basics. During trapping season as a boy and teenager he would get up extra early to check his trap line before milking cows several days a week. He started with muskrats, then beavers, to bobcat, fox, and more. At the time Grandpa Holbrook probably didn’t realize he started a lifelong part-time job/love for Val that would include him writing articles for hunting and trapping magazines that were published nationally, and where he would receive fan mail, questions and collaboration from other mountain man trappers.
Val love baseball during his youth, everything about baseball! He had a keen mind for the game and strategies of winning. He started in the outfield but as he grew he was a baseman. As an adult during the season he would watch as many games as he could get in, but come World Series time he didn’t miss a game.
Val attended Davis High School and had to take the bus from Syracuse to Kaysville each day until he was a senior. He really enjoyed math, agriculture, botany, and zoology, but really didn’t like English, writing or spelling and never did get the knack of spelling of which he always thought was funny. (He was especially gifted at math and he was a great tutor for his siblings and his mother when she went back to college to earn her Bachelor’s Degree).
As a teenager he was among the boys that would have “good natured fun”. One Halloween they took apart the milk wagon of a local farmer and put it back together on the roof of his barn, of which they had a great laugh.
Upon graduating from high school in 1950 he served in the U.S. Army 14th Aviation Company where he became an airplane mechanic and pilot, and traveled around the country. He absolutely loved airplanes, everything about them! He could tell you details about all the current airplanes the US Army and Airforce were flying (many of which he had worked on as a mechanic and/or flown) and also about WWII airplanes. His company would investigate various airplane crashes, bring the remnants to different bases and help identify the cause of the crash. One time they were even called to the Grand Canyon when a TWA airplane crashed.
His favorite place that he was stationed was Fairbanks Alaska, of course, on his days off he was off fishing and exploring. He was surprised, however, that the winter of 1952 was so mild that snow was trucked in to the main street for the Iditarod Dog Sled Race to go through town, he remembered it was the craziest winter he had spent.
After honorably retiring from the Army he accepted a position as an airplane mechanic at Hill Air Force Base in Utah in the mid 1950’s. Here he was commissioned into an aviation group where he aided the government in the cold war, he even had a “secret call name”. He had some exciting experiences during this time up until the Vietnam War, and when telling these stories he would laugh, shake his head and explain that he wondered how some of the stuff was ever thought up, or why airplanes were landed in corn fields or in deep mud, and how it was classified. He happily retired after 35 years, hundreds of certifications, and the comradery of co-workers many who turned out to be lifelong friends. He was happy to retire when he did in 1987 as he would say he was too old and set in his ways to learn the complicated computer systems of the new airplanes. He did master a DVR, remote, and a flip cell phone, all of which he was so proud of.
Val always had a beautiful singing voice and when he was a teenager he earned the money for his first guitar. He taught himself to play the guitar and when he was in the Army he would learn anything anyone would teach him. During the 1950’s when he was in the Army he would sing and play with the different bands at the clubs near the bases where he was stationed. He loved the country music of the time and also was influenced by performers like The Righteous Brothers. He had his classic western look with his duck tail hair slicked back and very handsome, the girls really liked him in all the towns he was stationed in, he didn’t have a difficult time getting a date. As time went on he would learn fun songs for his daughter, and the popular songs from his favorite artists; Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers and John Denver to name just a few. He branched out into Bluegrass and his fingers could really fly across the strings. Because of his sense of humor he always had some crazy, fun songs in his repertoire, like “The Dog Making Love to Your Leg.” He would sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve and always around the campfire.
His favorite place to be was outdoors, especially in the mountains. This great love was set deep in his heart as a young boy by his Dad, Grandparents, and Uncles. He learned a love of fishing first being around 3 years old. The family would travel to Woodruff and Morgan where he would always catch his limit. During his teenage years he learned to fly fish and it became his passion. He studied the art of tying his own flies and would know exactly what the fish in a particular stream, river or lake preferred. He had his favorite way of cooking the fish he caught, but was always learning new ways. If he was camping he would wrap them in bacon with his special seasonings, then tinfoil and into the fire they would go. At one point he learned to smoke fish purchasing a smoker. He would smoke all kinds but he was renowned for his smoked Kokanee Salmon from Flaming Gorge. He loved the Kokanee Salmon so much that he purchased a place in Manila near Flaming Gorge so he could fish every day and be on the water at dawn. He loved the people of Manila and would have fun at the Senior Citizen’s Center, especially teasing everyone and telling jokes, when he wasn’t on the water.
Val took hunting to a whole new level!!! He was always researching the best, and the newest methods then incorporated them into his tried and true practical methods, which equaled greater success! If it was in season, Val was hunting. For birds he had his trusted dogs; Big Wicked Bill, the black lab wolf mix, and Tammy the purebred Brittany. Between the two dogs and Val any upland game including duck, goose, pheasant and sage hen didn’t stand a chance. Deer was his favorite big game with an elk here and there until he built his cabin at Echo Creek Ranch then added moose. A fun thing he did during one winter was build himself a muzzle loader gun from a kit that he was proud of. He was taught growing up to always eat what you shoot, he didn’t shoot for “sport”, and again he knew the best ways to prepare the meat. He always had a deep freezer that was full and several times a week his family ate fish, fowl or big game (along with the beef and chickens he raised).
He loved living in his cabin at Echo Creek Ranch, just the place for a mountain man like him. He helped build his cabin in 1990, he put in all the flower beds, and built his “Kabarn” and other out buildings. He enjoyed the wildlife he shared Moose Mountain with and would tease them, too. He had the birds eating out of his hands, literally, but no surprise. In the winter he would have to snowmobile in and was so happy to bring visitors up to sled, tube and have hot cocoa in the cabin. His cabin was the place for friends and family during hunting season, (and as much as he loved his mountain solitude he also enjoyed having his loved ones with him), so much success and stories around the campfire. Summer was so much fun, too, as hundreds of hotdogs and marshmallows were roasted over the fire, picnics, and 4-wheeling all around the roads of the gorgeous ranch. The only thing he really complained about was how the critters would eat his flowers and he was always coming up with ways to deter them but they would catch on and he would think up something new. He had some inventive “pet” names for those menacing critters. Five years ago he decided it was time to sell his beloved cabin and let another family enjoy it as he had all these years. He then spent his summers in Manila and his winters in St. George.
Val was an extraordinarily skilled mechanic and carpenter, there wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix or build. He could put together/and or fix pretty much any motor from cars, trucks and tractors to snowmobiles and everything in between. He was a master welder and purchased a welder for himself. In the late 1950’s he built his own speed boat, trailer and also a camper. He also learned the art of wood burning and made beautiful gifts. He used his carpentry talent to fulfill a childhood dream to have a model train, and he did it in a big way, it filled ¾ of the basement family room! He built towns, mountains, valleys and rivers, it was magnificent.
Around 1967 there was one group that recognized all of Val’s talents, skills and gifts; the Boy Scouts of America, and they were so happy to have him as a Merit Badge Counselor for 20 years. He loved it and working with the boys and helping them earn their Eagle Scouts.
He left a great legacy for all of us who knew and loved him, we will miss him greatly!
Surviving are his children: Darlene (Ken), and Joseph Shane, 4 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. Also, surviving are his brother Lanny (JoAnn), sister Janet (Kemp), many nieces, nephews and close friends he considered family.
A special thanks to The Family Tree Assisted Living Center and Aspen Ridge Hospice.
Graveside Services will be conducted on Friday, August 28, 2020 at Manila City Cemetery at 11:00 AM.
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