Dr. Ralph T. Holman - Austin

Dr. Ralph T. Holman, 94 of Austin, died peacefully surrounded by loved ones Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, at Mayo Clinic Health Systems, Albert Lea.

Ralph Theodore Holman was born March 4, 1918, in Minneapolis, the son of Alfred T. and May (Nilson) Holman. He was a graduate of Roosevelt High School, from Bethel College, The University of Minnesota and Rutgers University.

Ralph married Karla Calais on March 26, 1943, at the University of Minnesota Chapel. They lived in Minneapolis prior to moving to Sweden. Upon returning to the United States, they lived in Texas until moving to Austin, Minn., in 1951.

In 1946, Dr. Holman worked at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, with several Nobel Prize winners, including Sune Berstrom. He was the first person in the world to crystallize lipoxygenase, a significant enzyme in the inflammatory process. Following his time in Sweden, Dr. Holman spent time as a professor at Texas A&M University. In 1951, while a professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Dr. Holman was invited to join the Hormel Institute in Austin, which at the time was pioneering food stabilization technology. Dr. Holman spent the entirety of his career at his beloved Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, finally retiring in 2001.

Professor Holman was a pioneer in the area of essential fatty acid research and nutrition, making several fundamental discoveries about the metabolism of fatty acids. He is perhaps best known for coining the term "Omega-3" in 1963, which Holman said came from his knowledge of the Bible and Sunday school from the passage "I am the Alpha and the Omega". Dr. Holman was a devout Christian and led his life in pursuit of goodness and helping others.

Dr. Holman is regarded as the Father of Omega-3 fatty acids, discovering their essential nature, their metabolism and competition with Omega-6 fatty acids and spawning many of the top lipid researchers in the day that passed through his lab at the Hormel Institute. His science, discoveries, life and ambitions have improved the lives of millions around the globe through nutrition.

Dr. Holman was the Director of the Hormel Institute from 1975 to 1985 and on the Board of Directors for Hormel Foods. He was a past president of the American Oil Chemists Society, and received numerous awards and honors including the Borden Award and the prestigious Baldwin Award. He was a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, an invitation-only membership, the Royal Orchid Society, and many other scientific organizations.

His hobbies included photography and growing numerous orchids in a greenhouse he had constructed on the back of his home. Dr. Holman also enjoyed spending time at his Swedish style cabin in Upsala, Minnesota that he built with Karla and young son, Ted.

Dr. Holman was preceded in death by his parents and his loving wife, Karla.

Ralph is survived by his son, Nils "Ted" Holman, Minneapolis; nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at First Congregational Church in Austin, with the Reverend Shari Mason officiating.

Visitation will be Sunday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Clasen-Jordan Mortuary, and at the church for one hour before the service on Monday.

Funeral services will also be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, at Community Covenant Church in Upsala, with the Reverend Craig Johnson officiating. Interment will be at the Community Covenant Church Cemetery in Upsala. There will be a visitation at the church for one hour before the service.

Memorials in Dr. Holman’s name may be directed to the First Congregational Church in Austin or the Community Covenant Church in Upsala.