Tributes Pour in for Dr. William R. Holden

Dr. William "Bill" HoldenFormer students and colleagues of Dr. William “Bill” Holden are sharing their tributes and memories as we circulate the sad news of his passing. The department is honored that the Holden family has permitted us to spread this news in the hopes that it may help our modest community of engineers and family in emotional healing. Many of our alumni have responded, and they reiterate very similar sentiments toward Dr. Holden: he was a fantastic, energetic teacher whom they felt fortunate to have known. He was among the students’ favorite teachers, and the reservoir engineering training that they received has served each of them throughout their careers.  Some of them referenced Dr. Holden’s sharp sense of humor, while others focused on how engaging he was when he taught.  However, they all mentioned how the education they received helped them gain success in industry. 

Dr. Holden joined the department in August of 1955 during a time of high enrollment.  Through the Long String: The History of Petroleum Engineering at LSU, written by Brenda Macon, references his first year of teaching wherein he audited a section of a senior-level reservoir course in the morning and turned around to teach the next section hours later, right after lunch. That same chapter continues to list the various efforts that Dr. Holden expended to ensure the students’ quality education, detailing the care and time he took in teaching so his students could better understand the concepts in thermodynamics and learning FORTRAN to train students and provide them with new tools (at the time) to attain success. 

Additional contributions to highlight: Dr. Holden co-authored Well Design: Drilling and Production with B.C. Craft and M.F. Hawkins, Jr in 1963; and his first-rate drilling and production engineering laboratory experiments documented in his manual Laboratory and Field Experiments in Drilling and Production Engineering was published in 1963. Dr. Holden was the first instructor in the College of Engineering to introduce computer programming into his courses.  An advocate for lifelong learning, he took time off from LSU between 1964 and 1966 to work on his PhD, returning to LSU in 1967. He completed his Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 1969 and was awarded tenure in August 1973.  The nomination packet submitted on behalf of Dr. Holden for consideration of the Mark Krause, Jr. Professorship, which was awarded to him in January 1994, contains inspiring letters from alumni and colleagues detailing the contributions of an influential educator, mentor, and friend who clearly made a positive impression on all his students and contemporaries.

After nearly 40 years with the department, Dr. Holden retired in May 1994 and returned on numerous occasions to assist with teaching Blowout Control and Prevention to industry professionals with other LSU professors in the mid to late-1990s. One of those professors recounted that Dr. Holden retained the same enthusiasm and quick wit that is referenced in Through the Long String when he first taught in the 1950s. 

The Holden family’s loving tribute can be found on  Dr. Holden died peacefully at home on December 25, 2023. A funeral mass will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 13 at St. Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge, LA.  Additionally, details regarding the visitation, reception, and burial can also be found in the link to their tribute above.