Former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton passed away at the age of 98

Virginia News

(WFXR) — Former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton has passed away.

Holton’s family announced he died on Thursday, Oct. 28 at the age of 98. Holton was governor from 1970 to 1974. He was a Republican, but later in life supported some Democratic causes.

The family of Holton released this statement on his passing:

“Our Dad, Linwood Holton, passed away peacefully this morning at the home he shared with our Mom in Kilmarnock, Virginia. He turned 98 last month.

To the world, Governor Linwood Holton is known as a giant of civil rights and change. When others stood in the doorways of schools to block de-segregation, our Dad walked us (and bused us) to integrated schools to show the rest of the world the way of justice. When others balked at tearing down the barriers to employment and opportunities for all Americans, our Dad led the charge in hiring for the Governor’s office a staff that represented all Virginians. In launching a political party that included Main Street business, labor organizations, and African American organizations including the Crusade for Voters, Dad helped break the back of the political machine that had called the shots in Virginia. Dad was all of that and more in his public life.

But to us, he was simply a great Dad – a hero who helped us with our math homework, told us funny stories, and showed us the way to live committed to what is right. A Dad who always helped us see that every day is Opportunity Time – the chance to go make right in the world, for our families, our friends, and our communities. A loving, proud granddad to his 10 grandchildren, and a great friend to so many.

With our mom Jinks, his lifelong partner in all things and wife of 68+ years, Dad touched the lives of so many people.

We will miss Dad terribly but have been deeply blessed by his life.”

The Holton Siblings

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine also released a statement in the passing of his father-in-law, Holton:

“I mourn the loss of my father-in-law Linwood Holton. He was more than a father-in-law — he was my friend and my public service role model. His courageous efforts to end racial discrimination in Virginia, born out of a deep religious conviction about the equality of all God’s children, made him a moral pillar for so many. Lin and Jinks have been the key inspiration for my wife Anne’s public service career.

Lin was also a magnificent grandfather. I will always be thankful for his role in my life.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine

Current Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam released a statement regarding the passing of Holton:

“Linwood Holton changed what it means to serve as Governor of Virginia. He knew defeat at the ballot box before victory—and when he won, he made every moment count. 

If you want to know what American strength looks like, look at the famous photographs of Governor Holton—smiling, as he walked his children to Richmond’s public schools during the tensest moments of desegregation. He faced down Virginia’s demons and enabled this Commonwealth to look ahead. 

He showed a wistful state how to embrace the future, inviting us all to be “touched by the better angels of our nature,” in the words of President Lincoln who founded the reforming Republican Party that Linwood Holton revered. 

A half century has passed since Linwood Holton served as Governor. His public service continued for decades after that, and his children carry on his legacy today, serving in public office, in the academy, and as good and loving souls. 

May we all celebrate the life of Linwood Holton, Virginia’s servant leader. Our country needs more people like him today. 

Pam and I are smiling tonight in memory of this great man who lived nearly a century. Our thoughts tonight are especially with Jinks, Anne, Taylor, Woody, and Dwight, and everyone who loved Governor Holton.

I have directed that Virginia state flags be flown at half-staff in Governor Holton’s honor for the next 30 days.”

Gov. Ralph Northam

In honor of Holton, the governor has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the state Capitol and all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds. This is in respect and memory of Holton. The flags will remain lowered until sunset on Nov. 27.

Attorney General Mark Herring issued a statement regarding the death of Holton:

“Our Commonwealth has lost a great Virginian today. Governor Linwood Holton dedicated his life to bettering the lives of all Virginians, through his courageous fight to desegregate Virginia schools, his work to diversify the Governor’s Office, and his efforts to overhaul politics in the Commonwealth. He truly personified what a public servant should be and transformed what it meant to be a politician in Virginia – into someone who works for the betterment of the people. “Governor Holton’s legacy of progress and inclusion, and his dedication to civil rights can still be felt in every corner of Virginia, and I personally have looked to him as inspiration in the work that I have done during my time in public service. “Laura’s and my thoughts are with Governor Holton’s family tonight as they mourn the loss of their husband, father, and friend. He leaves behind an immense legacy and a Virginia that is a more open and welcoming place because of him.”

Attorney General Mark Herring

In October 2017, Holton Plaza was dedicated to the former governor for his contributions to the Roanoke Valley and Virginia. The plaza features Dogwood Trees, which were the favorite of Holton along with seat walls engraved with his quotes and a four-sided pedestal at the entrance which features important accomplishments and milestones of his life.

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