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Orrie Joel Holmen

1LT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn


Born 1914 in MN, Died 1984


County of residence at enlistment: Otter Tail County, MN
Other residence(s): Minneapolis, MN; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Wheat Ridge, CO; Park Ridge, IL
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: draftsmen
College education before the war: Chicago Technical Institute 3 years
Notes: Bronze Star; GO #17, Sec III, Hq 12th A Gp, 15 Apr 1945; Meritorious Service: Adjutant, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, 21 Jul-27 Dec 44; ASN 36045011 on enlistment record
Source: Roster of 23d HQ officers, from family of Oscar Seale; Awards and Decorations; photo from Ancestry® family tree 1968

Orrie Holmen was born on December 18, 1914 in Fergus Falls, MN, the oldest of three children. His parents had both been born in Norway; his father was a carpenter at the state hospital.

When he registered for the draft, on October 16, 1940, Orrie was living in Chicago, studying architecture at the Chicago Technical Institute, and working as a counter man in a cafeteria. The Institute offered a bachelor's degree in architecture after three years of study, and Orrie had completed three years by the time he enlisted in the Army, on August 8, 1941. He was working as a draftsman at that time, likely still in Chicago, since he enlisted at Camp Grant in Rockford, IL.

He married Eunice Thompson of Chicago on October 10, 1942 in Alexandria, VA; he was stationed at nearby Fort Belvoir. While he enlisted as a private, it is likely that he was eventually sent to officer training, since his enlistment number had changed to an officer's number by the time he joined the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion.

Orrie served overseas with the unit, and was discharged on September 26, 1945 with the rank of 1LT. He returned to Colorado where by 1948 he and a colleague had formed a partnership: Holmen & Mayer, Designers and Engineers. On January 24, 1951 he received his architecture license, and, in that year, he was serving as secretary-treasurer of Mayer-Osborn Co., a Denver construction company specializing in grain elevators. Within a few years he had opened his own architecture practice in Wheat Ridge, CO. As a new business owner there he started a Kiwanis Club, and served as its first president in 1954.

Orrie worked primarily on churches and other public buildings, including low-income housing and schools. Early projects included a strip mall in Denver in 1952, a school in Wheat Ridge in 1954, Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge in 1954, and the Presbyterian Church of the Hills in Evergreen, CO in 1956.

A 1958 newspaper article described him as a "well-known church architect and a leader in the Lutheran Laymen's Movement." The article describes a workshop for church leaders and teachers which he was leading at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Certainly, many of the churches he designed were Lutheran.

Some of his later churches included Highlands Lutheran Church in Denver in 1958, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Denver in 1959, the Church of God in Littleton, CO in 1961, and a new sanctuary for St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, NM in 1964.

Orrie and Eunice had four children after the war: Heidi, Orrie John, Orrie Jeffrey, and Orrie Jock.

After retirement in the late 1970s or early 1980s, Orrie and Eunice moved back to the Chicago area. They were living in Park Ridge, IL when Orrie died on February 25, 1984. His body was donated to medical science.


1920 census

1930 census

1940 census

1940 draft card

1941 enlistment record

1942 marriage license notice in the Evening Star (Washington DC)

1943 article in the Greenbelt Cooperator (MD) about his leaving the area

1950 census

1951 city directory for Denver CO

1952 article in The Denver Post (CO) about his architecture

1953 article in the Denver Post (CO) about his architecture

1954 article in the Denver Post (CO) about his architecture

1956 article in the Sunday Denver Post (CO) about his architecture

1958 article in The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, CO) about his architecture and church work

1958 article in the Denver Post (CO) about his architecture

1959 article in the Denver Post (CO) about his architecture

1959 article in the Denver Post (CO) about his architecture

1961 article in the Greeley Daily Tribune (CO) about his architecture

1964 article in the Albuquerque Journal (NM) about his architecture

1984 Cook County, IL death record*dp1cen*_ga*MTkxMDgzOTM4MS4xNjczODI0Nzcx*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY3NDE2NTAwMS42LjEuMTY3NDE2NTY5OC42MC4wLjA.

1984 VA death record

1984 death notice in the Chicago Tribune (IL)

Information about his architecture license

Article in the "Our Grandfathers' Grain Elevators" website about Orrie's work in 1948

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