John Holdren


Mr. John William Holdren, a beloved member of the Eastern Shore community and resident of Onancock,  passed away Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at the age of 74. Born Nov. 20, 1948, in Parkersburg, W.Va., he was the son of the late Thurman Leonard Holdren and Marjorie Bradley Holdren.

Following high school, John received his bachelor’s degree at the College of William and Mary and continued his education at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received a master’s in social work. Having spent much of his adult life in Williamsburg, he first began his life in service to others with James City County Department of Social Services. Throughout his career, he worked tirelessly to keep families together and as director he accomplished this goal, as there were no children in the care of his department upon his retirement. Following his career in social work, he became a licensed insurance agent and opened an office in Norfolk with State Farm Insurance Agency. Over the last five years, he enjoyed spending time with his family, focusing on volunteer work, and serving his community.

John served as a model for how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, and his spirit continues to inspire and uplift. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and all who knew him. John had an accomplished career as a public servant and businessman and since retirement was an active member of his community. He served on the Board of Shore History/Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society and was an active board member of the Montessori Children’s House of Franktown, where his two grandsons attend school. He loved kayaking and especially enjoyed his trips to Florida with Burnham Guides. John Holdren was a true pillar of the community, and his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew him. His service will be dearly missed and never forgotten.

John was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Holdren; three children, Jeffrey Holdren, Tyler Lewis, and Sarah Nottingham; and two grandchildren, Severn and Wills Nottingham. He was a kind and generous man who always put others before himself, and he will be remembered for his warmth, humor, and compassion.

A memorial service was held at Naomi Makemie Presbyterian Church on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at 1 p.m., with the Rev. Monica Gould officiating.

Contributions in John’s memory may be made to Montessori Children’s House of Franktown, P.O. Box 5, Franktown, VA 23354 or to Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, payable to: Shore History, P.O. Box 179, Onancock, VA 23417

Memory tributes may be shared with the family at

Arrangements were made by the Williams-Onancock Funeral Home.

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