In Memoriam – Bill Holmberg, 1928-2016

NAIHC.orgWashington, Sept. 14, 2016 – NAIHC greatly regrets the loss of Bill Holmberg and sends its condolences to his family. Lt. Col. William C. Holmberg (USMC retired) died Sept. 8 after a several-year battle with cancer – a battle which he never allowed to slow him down.

With his leading roles in a broad range of environmental and bioenergy organizations, Bill was a co-founder of ACORE, the American Council on Renewable Energy, and an active member of the NAIHC board. He worked hard to bring different groups together in support of creating a more sustainable world. He championed the cause of “biorefineries” designed not only to bring new prosperity to rural America but to help the developing world leapfrog beyond the industrial world’s costly investments in fossil fuels.

After his hardscrabble childhood in Washington state, Bill graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and led Marine combat missions first in Korea and then in Vietnam, earning the Navy Cross and the Silver Star for his valor under fire. After retiring from his 21 years in the Marines, he held prominent positions in the Department of Energy and U.S. EPA, always focused on helping Congress, policymakers and the public understand the need to build a more sustainable “bio-based” world. DOE acknowledged his work by awarding him its “Biomass Energy Program Distinguished Service Award” in 2002.

 After his years at DOE, Bill worked on Capitol Hill for Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska who wrote this tribute: “His tireless effort to ensure the promotion of renewable agricultural products has helped our country’s environmental conservation efforts, and Mr. Holmberg’s commitment to solving our Nation’s energy challenges will ensure that new and innovative resources and technologies will continue to flourish.”

Another congressional tribute came from former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle who wrote that he knew Bill over decades “as an indefatigable champion of the environment and as a visionary who understood the potential of renewable fuels for improving air quality and reducing our dependence on imported oil long before they were accepted as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.”

Daschle added that “Bill is a true American hero who stands as a model for us all. His selfless commitment to making the world a better place to live has been demonstrated not only on distant battlefields, but also by his daily pursuit of a more secure, environmentally sustainable and just society.”

Along with his many other honors and awards, Bill received the first Biofuels Digest “Holmberg Award for Lifetime Achievement” in 2014, subsequently named in his honor and now presented annually at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference.

To learn more about Bill’s life and achievements, read his son Mark Holmberg’s piece at The article includes classic photos, including one showing when “William C. ‘Bill’ Holmberg, then a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and a Marine attaché to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with President Lyndon B. Johnson in July 1967.”

Other tributes include: