Vance Leslie Holley, Jr., "Bud", was born March 3, 1942 to Vance L. Holley and wife Mary Belle Brown Holley in Gary, Indiana. His parents moved to China Lake, California in 1945 - at that time called Naval Ordinance Test Station - and attended schools in area from K – 12, graduating in 1960 from Sherman E. Burroughs High School.
He joined the US. Navy in 1961 and served onboard an aircraft carrier, a destroyer, a cruiser, and a
nuclear cruiser, plus various duty stations in the U.S. from Boston to San Francisco, Vietnam and the
Philippines. He was promoted to Electronics Technician Chief on December 16, 1977 and "retired" from
the Navy in 1981.
Bud believed in the importance of an education, taking classes at every duty station from the local
colleges and, in June of 1981, received a B.A. degree followed by a M.S. in 1993.
He met Ritarae (Rita) Harris in 1963 while home on leave and they married in July, 1964. They were
happily married for 52 years, being true soul mates, and were blessed with two sons - Michael Vance
Holley in 1967 born at Chelsea Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Mass.; and Scott Raymond Holley in 1969 born
at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.
Bud went to work for United Gas Pipeline in Houston, TX after the service for five years before
relocating to California and being hired by Northrop. Bud retired a second time in 1999 from Northrop
Grumman after having worked for them for 11 years and working on the B-2 Bomber - the flying wing -
starting when it was still a "black" project. When he came home from that interview, Rita asked what he
would be working on and he said that he didn't have a clue. It was still a secret project. He worked as a
contract defense contractor working short term jobs up and down the state of California before finally
retiring in 2003.
He was witness and participant to many wonderful events and traveled to many countries. He saw the
space shuttle landing at night at Edwards AFB, worked on the B-2 bomber, was a golden shellback when
crossing the equator. His whole life revolved among the military and it is fitting that he was interred at
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington VA on May 2, 2017.
While in the U.S. Navy stationed in Vung Tao Vietnam in 1970, he was exposed to Agent Orange - a
defoliant sprayed by air used to control jungle growth - and in 2008 was diagnosed with leukemia and
lymphoma - a direct result of the product. Agent Orange was stored in huge black containers and simply
had an orange ring around on the containers for identification -- therefore, the name, Agent Orange.
He fought the good fight but lost the battle on December 16, 2016 at Hospice House in Coeur d'Alene,
ID with Rita by his side. He went to be in God's arms and to join his parents and younger son, Scott that
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Rita; son, Michael; daughters-in-law, Misti and Elizabeth; three
granddaughters, Natalie, Abbey and Sarah; cousins; and many, many friends.
A memorial celebration will be held at 1 PM on Saturday, July 1, 2017 at Yates Funeral Home – Coeur d' Alene Chapel, 744 N. 4th St., Coeur d' Alene, ID. His friends and relatives meant the world to him and after the service we will have a reception with lunch.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like to suggest donations be made in Bud's name to Hospice of North Idaho, 9493 N. Government Way, Hayden, ID 83835 or Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607 (www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org).