Ralph Milo Holman

June 7, 1914 - September 3, 2013

SALEM - Ralph M. Holman, a fourth generation Oregonian, and former Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, died from the effects of old age on September 3 in Salem.

He was born in Portland on June 7, 1914 and was reared in the Molalla area where he attended both grammar and high school. Ralph graduated from the Northwestern School of Law, now Lewis & Clark Law School, in 1937 and was admitted to the practice of law the same year. He practiced in Portland until 1942 when he was inducted into the Navy, serving as a Chief Petty Officer until discharged in 1946.

In 1937, he married Louise Mariam Oesch of Portland, who died in 1989. His closest relatives are nephews and nieces.

Upon his discharge from the Navy, he joined the law firm of Butler and Jack in Oregon City which, subsequently, became Butler, Jack, Beckett and Holman. In 1950, he was appointed Circuit Judge of Clackamas County by Governor Douglas McKay, in which position he served until he was elected to the Oregon Supreme Court in 1965.

While a trial judge, he was a member of a Committee on the Administration of Justice established by the Legislature. As chairman of its subcommittee on Juvenile Law, he was instrumental in the passage of a law permitting the termination of parental rights of parents of abused children, thus making them eligible for adoption.

At the request of the other members of the Supreme Court, he drew the plan for establishment of the Oregon Court of Appeals, which was presented to the State Bar Association and which was created by the Legislature.

Ralph was a life member of the Board of Trustees of Lewis & Clark College and served as Chairman of the law school budget committee until the law school budget was subsumed into the greater school budget.

He was given a distinguished graduate award by Lewis & Clark Law School as well as the Aubrey Watzik award by Lewis & Clark College. The Ralph M. Holman Law Center in Oregon City was dedicated on July 30, 2007.

He retired from the Supreme Court in 1980, after serving as a judge for 30 years. At his request, there will be no service. Contributions may be made to Lewis & Clark Law School for scholarships for four-year students. Arrangements are by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

Published in StatesmanJournal on September 5, 2013, courtesy of Virgil T. Golden, Funeral Service and Oakleaf Crematory
605 Commercial Street SE
Salem, OR 97301
(503) 364-2257


Ralph M. Holman (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

74th Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court

In office   1965–1980

Preceded by George Rossman and Succeeded by Jacob Tanzer

Born: June 7, 1914, Portland, Oregon

Died: September 3, 2013 (aged 99), Salem, Oregon

Spouse: Louise Mariam Oesch Holman

Ralph Milo was an attorney and senior judge in the state of Oregon, United States. He was the 74th Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. Previously he was a circuit court judge for Clackamas County, Oregon.

Ralph Holman was born on June 7, 1914 in Portland, Oregon, but grew up in Molalla, Oregon, southeast of Portland. There he attended elementary school and graduated in 1932 from Molalla High School (from which eight Holmans have graduated. During the Great Depression, he worked as a clerk during the daytime, posting relief checks. At night, he attended the Northwestern College of Law (now Lewis & Clark Law School) in Portland, Oregon.  In 1937, he graduated from law school with a juris doctorate, and passed the bar that year.   Holman began practicing law in Oregon City, Oregon, with the firm Butler, Jack, Beckett and Holman, before joining the United States Navy during World War II.  He served from 1942 to 1946, when he was discharged as a Chief Petty Officer.

Judicial career:  After World War II, Holman returned to Oregon, where he was appointed to the Clackamas County Circuit Court by Governor Douglas McKay in 1950. He served as a circuit court judge for 15 years, until 1965. While on the bench in that court, he served on the Committee on the Administration of Justice created by the Oregon Legislature, and was chairman of the subcommittee on Juvenile Law. Through his efforts on this committee, the legislature passed a law which allowed for abusive parents to lose their parental rights, thereby enabling abused children to become adopted.

Holman's 1960 decision in Dickman v. School District No. 62C, a case that allowed the use of public funds for purchasing textbooks for parochial schools, spurred an appeals process that ultimately led to the United States Supreme Court. His decision was overturned by the Oregon Supreme Court, which argued the "child benefit" theory could not be used to justify public expenditures for private causes. The United States Supreme Court left this decision intact when they denied certiorari.

In 1964, Holman was elected to the Oregon Supreme Court, the state's highest court, filling the position of George Rossman whose term had expired. During the summer of 1967, Holman was a judge in residence at New York University School of Law, a fellowship for appellate judges that was awarded by the Institute of Judicial Administration. At the request of his fellow justices, Holman created the plan to establish the Oregon Court of Appeals, which was approved by the State Bar Association and Oregon Legislature in 1969. Holman won re-election to additional six-year terms in 1970 and 1976. His opinion in Portland Section of Council of Jewish Women vs. Sisters of Charity (1973) is often cited as an example of impracticability in contract law. Before the end of his final term, he submitted his resignation to Governor Victor Atiyeh on October 16, 1979, citing his advancing age. His resignation became effective January 20, 1980, after 30 years on the Oregon bench.

Later life and family: In 1937, he married Louise Mariam Oesch, who died in 1989. She served in the United States Coast Guard Women's Reserve from 1943-1946, and was a member of the first female graduating class. Her declining health also led to his early retirement from the Oregon bench. They did not have any children. Holman was a Life Trustee at Lewis & Clark College, which honored him with the Aubrey Watzik award, and the distinguished graduate award from Lewis & Clark Law School. For many years, he served as the Chairman of the Law School budget committee.

Until the end of his life, Justice Holman served as a senior judge for the state of Oregon, in which the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court is allowed to appoint retired justices on a temporary needed basis. In 2005, at the age of 91, Holman and other family members created the Holman Family Scholarship for graduates of Molalla High School. Clackamas County Courthouse opened the Ralph M. Holman Law Center in 2007, its first expansion in 71 years, which houses offices for drug and DUII court, court reporters, jury assembly rooms, and the Alden Miller Law Library. Holman was an avid fly fisherman, which led him to travel extensively throughout South America, Asia, and the Pacific Northwest. He and his wife were passionate collectors of art and antiques, and cultivated roses. Holman died at his home in Salem, Oregon on September 3, 2013.