Michael Holderness Obituary

Michael Aaron Holderness
Michael Holderness
Michael Aaron Holderness

February 4, 1941 - November 20, 2021
Born in Cherokee, Iowa
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa
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Michael Aaron Holderness, 80, passed away November 20, 2021, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

As the only child of O.C. “Red” and Louise Holderness, Mike had an idyllic childhood in Northwest Iowa, first on a farm near Larrabee and then in Cherokee. At Cherokee High School, Mike met his match in Susan Rutherford. Their class of 1960 was tight knit, remaining life-long friends and gathering regularly for reunions and recently for “Zooms.”

Mike and Susan married and attended Wayne State College in Nebraska, living in married housing along with baby daughters Lauren and Lisa. After graduation, Mike taught biology and started the first football program at Underwood High School in Underwood, Iowa. Although he enjoyed coaching and stayed in contact with some of his football players, the insurance industry was his real career calling.

Mike started selling insurance for The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company in Sac City, Iowa, and continued in the insurance business for over 35 years, retiring as President of Hawkeye Life Insurance Group in Des Moines. He was a relationship guy and the classic definition of an extrovert. He loved meeting new people and hearing their stories, and always had a few of his own jokes and stories to share. His fun-loving, gregarious personality and contagious laugh helped him connect with everyone he met.

In their 60 years together, Mike and Susan had two additional children, Jennifer and Joshua, plus seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Mike was at his happiest when surrounded by their big extended family, many friends, and terrific neighbors at their home in the Owl’s Head neighborhood of Des Moines (for 30+ years) and cottage on Pillsbury Point at Lake Okoboji.

Mike was active in his community as a Deacon at Plymouth United Church of Christ, an official for decades at the Drake Relays, and a little league coach. He also worked post-retirement as a school interventionist with at-risk students in the West Des Moines School District.

His passions included wicked-strong coffee, chili, and quarter pounders with cheese, as well as running, snow skiing, hunting, traveling with Susan (especially to Hilton Head Island), and watching sunsets from their porch at the lake. Golf, however, was at the top of his list. He had a regular foursome of golf buddies and never met a course he wasn’t willing to try. Mike was the envy of his friends when he landed a part-time, post-retirement job at Emerald Hills Golf Club in Okoboji for several summers as a course ranger.

Mike is survived by many loving relatives, including his wife, Susan, and their children Lauren Holderness (John Davis), Lisa Holderness Brown (Peter), Jennifer Lewis (Andy), and Joshua Holderness (Shara). He was also blessed with grandchildren Jack Lewis; Abby Keller (Joey); Emma and Parker Brown; and Stella, Cash, and Bernadette Holderness, plus great-grandchild Charlotte Keller.

There will be a funeral service at Plymouth United Church of Christ at 4126 Ingersoll Avenue in Des Moines on Wednesday, December 8 at 11 a.m. Memorials may be directed to Iowa PBS (Iowa Public Television).





Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ
4126 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
11:00 AM


Iowa Public Television
6450 Corporate Drive PO Box 6450
Johnston, IA 50131