Thomas Holce (Obituary)

Thomas Holce (Courtesy Photo)

1959, Honorary Degree 1993

Thomas Jefferson Holce

Tom Holce, one of Oregon’s leading technology entrepreneurs, died July 14 at his Jantzen Beach home after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

Holce, who grew up in a logging family in Mist, Ore., was a key figure in the growth of Pacific. He served on the Board of Trustees from 1983 to 1992 and was the group’s chairperson from 1991 to 1992. He served on all the Board’s subcommittees and led the University’s first comprehensive capital campaign, which ended in 1993 after raising $24 million.

Over the years, he gave well over $1.5 million to the University. Holce came to Pacific after a stint in the Air Force at the recommendation of his first wife Joyce, who preceded him in death in 1992. Although a self-described poor student in high school, at Pacific he quickly blossomed into a top student in math and physics. While still at Pacific, he began work on an electron microscope in his Forest Grove garage that was the genesis of his first company, Pacific Instruments. He later sold the instrument to Doug Strain and Electro Scientific Industries, and went on to found several more technology firms and record over 20 patents.

Holce is survived by his spouse, Gretchen Holce; sister, Irene Jones; half-brother, Robert Mathews; son, Kent Holce; daughter, Tonya Holce-Owens; stepsons, Mark and Ryan Griffin; stepdaughter, Heidi Griffin; and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Joyce; and brother, Wilfred.