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Remembering the man behind the bell

    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Wife, Jean Holmberg, second from left, waves her hands in song and prayer with other Salvation Army volunteers during Elmer's memorial service held in the chapel of the Salvation Army.
Published December 23. 2011 05:01PM

The life of Elmer Holmberg, a lifelong soldier with the Tamaqua Salvation Army Corps, was remembered during a recent memorial service in the chapel of the Tamaqua Salvation Army.

Holmberg was 78 when he suffered a fatal heart attack earlier this month while volunteering at a Salvation Army kettle inside the Redner's Market in Nesquehoning. During the memorial service, family and friends remembered Holmberg's volunteerism and kindness.

Born in Tamaqua, Elmer was the husband of Jean (Romig) Holmberg for 38 years; and son of the late John W. and Pauline (Gerber) Holmberg. He was a self employed building/construction contractor for more than 20 years, and was a life time member/soldier of the Salvation Army, where he was well known for his faithfulness and dedication.

During the memorial service, he was remembered for the many hours spent standing at kettles year-round at the Hometown Farmers Market and seasonally in Nesquehoning.

Tamaqua Salvation Army Major Sharon Whispell Major Barbara George, along with other officers, including Major Sharon Cupp, Major Diane Heburn and Major Robert Kountztold told how Holmberg dedicated his life to the Salvation Army and the community of Tamaqua.

Captain Gary Thornton, Ohio, who served with Holmberg said, "Elmer had the ability to lighten any room with his spirit and never let physical limitations get in his way."

"If I could be half the man my father was in his life, I feel that I would have lived a pretty good life," said his son, Josh Holmberg. "I hope that one day all the values he distilled in me that I can teach to my son."

"My dad was born into a large family - child seven of 10 - and rarely told people that he didn't have much growing up since he was raised during the depression," said Matthew Holmberg, another son. "One of my dad's memories was of him and his brother sharing a bed together struggling to stay warm on a cold winter's day, while staring at the night sky through a hole in the roof, sometime waking up with snow on their comforter."

Josh added that his father volunteered not because he had or needed to, but rather because he wanted to

"He was truly a special person," he said.

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