Prominent philanthropist Dave Holmberg passes away at 75

Holmberg was instrumental in creation of Abbotsford's adult hospice and prominent figure in local politics and community life

Dave Holmberg

Dave Holmberg

Dave Holmberg, a prominent Abbotsford philanthropist, businessman and political strategist, died early Monday morning.

Holmberg, who was 75, passed away surrounded by family at Abbotsford Regional Hospital after a five-year battle with cancer.

He leaves a lasting mark in Abbotsford, having received nearly every award a citizen can be honoured with in Abbotsford; he was named Abbotsford Community Services citizen of the year in 2012, and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal twice – in 2002 and 2012. In 2008, he received the Order of Abbotsford “in recognition of his outstanding leadership in making Abbotsford a better place to live.” Last year, he received the province’s new Medal of Good Citizenship.

Holmberg was born in southern Saskatchewan in 1941, and grew up in Victoria, before later moving to Alberta. It was there he first became involved in the equipment business. He moved to Abbotsford in 1975 and opened Fraser Valley Loader Sales, which would later become Bobcat Country Sales.

He operated the business with his wife Lee and sons David and Phillip until 2011.

Dave and wife Lee Holmberg donated more than $1 million to help fund the construction of the Abbotsford Hospice Society’s new hospice. The facility was later named Holmberg House, in memory of David Holmberg Jr., who died from cancer in 2011 at age 48.

Holmberg was frequently involved in raising funds and awareness for a range of other causes, including the Salvation Army, Matsqui Centennial, Abbotsford Community Services, Valley Royals Track and Field, Big Brothers and Sisters of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford Airforce Football and the 4-H Club. He also helped co-ordinate the development of the Discovery Trail, and donated equipment and operators for the endeavour. A plaque recognizes the contribution near Fishtrap Creek Park.

Holmberg also served 10 terms as president of the Ledgeview Golf Course, chaired the Abbotsford Airport Authority, was vice president of the Abbotsford Airshow and sat on the boards of Agrifair, the Chamber of Commerce, Abbotsford Economic Development Board. He was also instrumental in the creation of CrimeStoppers, and the Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association, and chaired the Matsqui Citizens Advisory Group for Corrections Canada.

While he never ran for office, Holmberg was also a major political player behind the scenes. He managed multiple campaigns for former mayor Dave Kandal and longtime MLA – and current Finance Minister – Mike de Jong. He sat on the Premiers Advisory Group also donated thousands of dollars to the BC Liberal Party and preferred candidates in municipal elections.

Check out Wednesday’s Abbotsford News for more on Dave Holmberg’s life.