John R. Holden, 90, a former minority counsel and staff director of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, died of
congestive heart failure Feb. 24 at his home in Annapolis.
Mr. Holden ran the committee from 1962 until retiring in 1980. He helped craft the language for the Montgomery GI Bill --
a later version of the World War II-era legislation granting education benefits to veterans-- and attended White House
signings for all significant veterans legislation during that time. He hired future Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) to the
committee staff in 1979.
A native Washingtonian, Mr. Holden graduated from the old Central High School and served in the Army as an
artilleryman in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he stayed in the Army Reserve until 1952, leaving as a first
He graduated from American University and worked as national service and legislative director for the AMVETS National
Service Foundation in Washington, then became assistant director of the VA's regional office in Detroit before returning
to Washington in 1962.
He was a past commander of the District 5 U.S. Power Squadron, a volunteer at Anne Arundel Medical Center's auxiliary
and a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Elks Club, Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars
and the American Legion. His interests included camping and boating.
A daughter, Teresa Whitmire, died in 2002.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Betty Holden of Annapolis; four children, John Holden of New Bern, N.C., Timothy
Holden of Damascus, Kathleen Basil of Arnold and Mike Holden of Alexandria; 12 grandchildren; and three
-- Patricia Sullivan