Gregory John Hollod, 69, passed away on Friday, October 22, 2021 in his home in Boca Raton, Florida. Although his 11-month battle with brain cancer was unrelenting, Greg passed away pain-free and surrounded by love. Even in his final hour, unable to speak, he continued to showcase his beautiful smile that warmed the hearts of all those around him.
Greg is survived by his two sons, Christopher and Andrew; two daughter-in-laws, Bianca and Laura; and two grandchildren, Rivers and Luke.
Greg was born on April 18, 1952 in Wellsville, New York to John “Yonk” Hollod and Margaret Shear Hollod. It was a simple and disciplined upbringing alongside his older brother Buster and younger sister Kim.
From a very young age, Greg found deep inspiration and solace in nature, and he fueled his more introverted tendencies through meandering hikes in the woods.
He fell in love with his high school sweetheart, Katie McEnroe, during their first date at his senior prom, and consistent with his love of nature, Greg ultimately proposed to Katie during one of their favorite hikes.
Greg’s father, Yonk, a World War II veteran, was a first generation American whose parents immigrated from the Ukraine. Yonk taught Greg the value of hard work, determination, and most importantly, the value of education. “An education is something that no one can take away from you,” is a defining quote that still rings through the minds of Greg’s sons, Chris and Andrew.
After graduating college from Binghamton University, with Katie supportively by his side, Greg moved to Minnesota to earn his PhD in Environmental Engineering, which was still a relatively nascent field. Today, environmental issues have become quite salient in almost every large corporation, but during his PhD work, Greg was one of the initial pioneers and trailblazers in the industry. He dedicated his profession to honoring and protecting the sacred beauty of our natural world.
Greg started his career with a 13-year stint at DuPont and eventually worked for several other large manufacturing companies including Graphic Packaging, Kimberly Clark, Dresser-Rand, and Mueller Water Products. Although the companies differed in their products and services, Greg’s mission was always precisely clear and consistent: protect the health and safety of the employees and the environment.
As children, we all aspire to find a professional calling that coincides with our personal interests, and Greg was a shimmering example of someone who brought this childhood dream to fruition.
Greg’s love of nature permeated all facets of his life and was deeply instilled into his two sons, who were raised equally in the suburbs of Atlanta and the rugged mountains of Blue Ridge, a quaint town in North Georgia at the Southern starting point of the world-famous Appalachian Trail.
Throughout Chris and Andrew’s adolescence, Katie would drop-off her “three boys” at a trailhead with enough food and supplies to last at least five nights in the woods. After each full day of hiking, Greg would assemble the tent and sleep in the middle, flanked on both sides by his sons.
Chris and Andrew, now 38 and 37, respectively, still fondly cherish the memories of their countless outdoor adventures with their father. And Andrew is now eagerly teaching his two sons, Rivers (4) and Luke (1) the captivating beauty of nature.
In hindsight, life seemed relatively idyllic for decades, until Katie was diagnosed with late-stage cancer during the summer of 2005. After a heroic and courageous 2-year battle with the disease, Katie passed away on July 4, 2007, leaving Greg as a widower.
Instead of being perpetually debilitated by utter sadness, which Katie would have disapproved of, Greg channeled his deep sense of loss into an inspirationally positive outlet: he became a grief counselor and funeral volunteer in order to help those in need.
During this chapter of Greg’s life, his guiding principle was, “love drives out fear,” in reference to the empowering Bible verse 1 John 4:18. After much focused repetition, the verse was ultimately codified into the Hollod family motto. No matter the fear, whether of death or illness, Greg beseeched everyone to focus exclusively on love. Greg truly became a beacon of love, inspiring all those around him, including his dearest Katie, who continued to watch over him from above.
In 2018, after retiring from his profession to dedicate more time to his volunteer work, Greg immediately commenced a new chapter of his life as “Far Far,” which translates to “grandfather” in Swedish. This seemingly obscure term, which he encountered during a vacation in Sweden with Katie in the ‘90s, became Greg’s new moniker as he relished his time with his grandchildren Rivers and Luke. In the last three years of his life, Greg’s friends, family, and even his two sons began referring to him lovingly as “Far Far” or even “Farf” for short.
Throughout his entire life, Greg possessed an exceedingly rare ability to enjoy life’s simplest of pleasures. When asked about his priorities and secrets to being happy, Greg was always quick to respond with, “Love, Nature, and the Divine.” The aforementioned code acted as Greg’s compass, and his impassioned adherence to this code navigated him through a life well-lived.
Greg will be missed and remembered by so many, but it gives his family profound peace to know that Greg has been reunited with his wife Katie through heaven’s everlasting embrace.
Greg will be honored in a Catholic Mass Christian Burial at Immaculate Conception in Wellsville, NY (36 Maple Ave.) at 11am on Saturday, November 13th. Memorial contributions may be made to the David A. Howe library in Wellsville, NY (155 North Main St.). To leave online condolences please visit www.embserfuneralhome.com.