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Donald "Don" L. Holbert

Donald "Don" L. Holbert

Donald “Don” L. Holbert, one of Arkansas’s great aviation pioneers, died Sunday, September 27, 2015 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Born on March 6, 1940 in Little Rock, to Claud and Gladys Erisman Holbert, Don was a distinguished aviator who dedicated his entire life to his passion, aviation. His father, Claud, began Central Flying Service in 1939 where he was instilled with a great love of aviation from a very young age. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Linda Vail Holbert, a son Steve along with his wife Susan and his granddaughter Hayden. Also surviving is his brother Richard Holbert of Little Rock, a cousin, Kaye Dunn of Benton, and five nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents and his sister, Claudette Sue Stewart.

A graduate of Wentworth Military Academy in 1957 and Ouachita Baptist University in 1961, he was a distinguished ROTC graduate and won many medals for his championship marksmanship.

Following his education, Don received a commission with distinction in the U.S. Army where he rose to rank of Captain. He was platoon leader and a helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam earning the Distinguished Flying Cross with “V” device for Valor, the Bronze Star, 32 Air Medals and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.

He returned stateside in 1968 and continued his career in aviation at Central Flying Service that spanned 60 years. At age 15 he started as a line service tech fueling aircraft, then moved in rank to charter pilot ultimately holding an Airline Transport Pilot Rating. He became the company’s Vice President of Operations, President and in 1981, Chairman of the Board, a position he held until his passing. Additionally, he held the position of President of Airport Services, Inc., a commercial airline fueling business. He was a founding member of the board of the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society and was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006. He served on the Board of Visitors of the Wentworth Military Academy and the Executive Board of Visitors for the Hickinbotham School of Business at Ouachita Baptist University. He was a philanthropic man and a member of many organizations who silently and generously donated to most all of them.

Don was an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoyed traveling the world with the love of his life, Linda. They enjoyed spending time at their river house on the Little Red near Heber Springs spending most weekends there. He also loved restoring antique cars namely a 1951 Chevrolet 2 door hard top and a 1954 Chevy Belair. Taking his cars to Antique Car Shows, Don won numerous medals for his restoration skills.

Services will be held at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock on Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Ruebel Funeral Home in Little Rock.

In lieu of flowers, the family request that memorials be made to the Donald L. Holbert Endowed Scholarship Fund at Ouachita Baptist University, Box 3754, Arkadelphia, Arkansas 71998 or to the Jacksonville Museum of Military History, 100 Veteran’s Circle, Jacksonville, Arkansas 72076. Arrangements are under the direction of Ruebel Funeral Home,

Condolence Book

"With deepest sympathy"
Abe & Suzanne Stice | Marble Falls, TX |

"I was so sad to hear about this; Don was a great man. My condolences to Mrs. Holbert & family."
Gary Davison | North Little Rock, AR |

"O Linda!! Words cannot express how my heart hurts for you & Steve & family. I'm so sorry to learn of Don's death. Elvis & I want you to know that we will be lifting you up in prayers. I will be talking to you. Love you, Punkin & Elvisod"
Punkin Smith | Conway, AR |

"I am very sorry to hear of your loss. Your entire family will be in my thoughts and prayers. I will always remember his kind spirit and am proud to say it still lives in each of you Holberts still with us today. Your family has always been a blessing to everyone around. If you ever need anything please don't hesitate to ask.

With Love,

Angel Hairston | Little Rock, AR |

"We admire Don not only for his accomplishments but for the nice person that he was. We will miss him. RIP Don and know that you were loved and admired by many!
Marvin & Dot Saville"

Marvin & Dot Saville | Sherwood , AR |

"Mr.Don Holbert was one of the most unpretentious gentleman I have ever met! Don and Linda opened their facility to our DFC chapter for our monthly meetings! Don and his notoriety helped our Chapter in more ways then I can express.

Gordon L Hartley
Eaker Chapter DFC Society
President Emeritus "

Gordon L Hartley | Jacksonville, AR |

"Our sincerest condolences to all who loved him."
Stephen & Lela Scroggins | Little Rock, AR |

"Steve and Susan, I am very sorry to hear of your loss. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Your neighbors, Robert & Deborah"
Robert Lindley | Little Rock, AR |

"Our deepest sympathies to the family and Central Flying Service."
Rick Hale on behalf of Winner Aviation Corporation | Youngstown, OH |

"To the Holbert Family:

My first job after I completed my BS degree in August '78 was in Oct. '78 for Captain Don Holbert @ ASI along w/ Keith Carmichael & Brad Lemay.

It was cold & wet on the ASI flight line; but, Captain Holbert was a wonderful highly respected boss to me then as a young man. He also became a good friend whom I visited with on the phone & later on email. As I said, he was a wonderful boss to work for & I also had a great deal of respect for his Vietnam service.

The day he hired me for ASI (3-11 shift) I noticed during a phone call he had to take that he'd been awarded the DFC & the Bronze Star. I was highly honored by this; but, he was very humble by my noticing.

When ask if I'd served I said "No Sir. My Dad was Ordinance CPL. in the 10th AAF, CBI, WW2."

He, by military history & study knew of my Dad's 10th AAF in WW 2 India, Burma, & China, though they never met.

I was also the ONLY employee at that time who didn't call him "DON"; but always referred to him as "Captain Holbert?", to which the reply always came "YES SIR!"

He commanded & deserved that respect which was mutually shared & holds a strong love & respect by me, for the great soldier, who shall not just "fade away" as the old refrain goes.

Captain Holbert, I shall ever miss your counsel, your friendship & shall ever value it highly! SEMPER FI!! Randy O. Bowling U.S. Public Health Service--Immunization Program: 7/79 to 8/80


Randy O. Bowling | Greenbrier, AR |

"Linda, Steve and Susan, I am so sorry to learn of Don's passing. He always treated me so kindly throughout the time I knew him. I appreciated his sense of humor as well. He was a man of many accomplishments. May God provide comfort to you at this time. "
Michelle Mitchell | Little Rock, AR |

"Our thoughts and sympathy to the Holbert family. We had the privilege of meeting Don on several occasions , when in Little Rock for Aviation Business Meetings. It was very evident that he was a kind and caring man and that he had a great love of Aviation ; only second to his love of family.


Jim and Angie Miller | Cleveland, OH |

"Yet another Brother in Arms has reached his final mission on earth and now reports for his next duty assignment.
May the family of Donald L. Holbert find comfort in Gods word.Thank you, for your service and your sacrifices you will not be forgotten. My Heartfelt condolences go out to all family and friends of this Great American Patriot.

Wayne Helms | Fort Smith, AR |

"Very sad to receive this news. I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Don’s sense of humor. A few years back,I remember conversing with him and being absolutely captivated with his military stories and achievements. My sincere condolences to the entire Holbert family."
Danny L Brickey Sr | Redfield, AR |

"I first met Don as a member of the General Ira Eaker Chapter of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society. We shared a strong interest in antique cars and made the annual trip to Petit Jean car event.
Don shared a warm friendship for all members
He will be greatly missed with our thoughts and prayers extending to Linda and the family. Carl"

Carl E Hudson | N. Little Rock, , AR |

"I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to the Holbert family. Keeping all of you in my prayers. "
Dana Hodges | Little Rock, AR |

"Linda and family, I was truly heartbroken receiving the sad news of Don's departure. I was honored being his helicopter company's commanding officer until my departure from Vietnam in 68. Together we, along with other outstanding leaders, formed the chopper company state-side and took it to Vietnam in 67. He became my "Armed Helicopter Platoon" commander and was known as Mad Dog 6. He was an outstanding leader and very skilled pilot during assault operations. Subsequent to VN he became an outstanding friend being very loyal to all who have served our country during military conflicts. I shall always remember his kindness during military reunions and will greatly miss him next time. Don's umbrella of influence on all who knew him will live on. May God truly bless and comfort you Linda and your family. "
Glenn F. Hoffman LTC (Ret) | San Antonio, , TX |

"Richard ( Dickie) … I was so saddened to read about Don's passing. You guys made a great impact on my life when I was so young. My condolences to you and Don's family."
Sandy Rankin | Austin, TX |

"I did not know Don well but his record of achievements tells me that I missed a lot by not knowing him better. Our prayers go out to his family and the folks at Central Flying Service. He will be remembered fondly by many. Those who served their county unselfishly will always have a special place in the hereafter."
Tom Wiles | Swanton, OH |

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