Cover photo for Orla Leroy Holcomb, Jr.'s Obituary
Orla Leroy Holcomb, Jr. Profile Photo
1929 Orla L. "Lee" Holcomb, Jr. 2023

Orla Leroy Holcomb, Jr.

September 20, 1929 — September 16, 2023

Niles, Michigan


Orla Leroy (Lee) Holcomb, Jr. (93) passed away peacefully at his home Saturday Evening, September 16th of 2023 surrounded by family. Orla was born at home in Toledo, Ohio on September 20, 1929, to his parents Orla Leroy Holcomb, Sr. and Evelyn Mae (Garey) Holcomb.  He had one brother, James Edward Holcomb, who passed away in June of 2016.   On July 7, 1951, he married his high school sweetheart, Donna Marie Young who survives.  Their children, who also survive, are Mark Holcomb, Linda (Holcomb) Kubiak, and Matthew Holcomb.  Also surviving are their 5 Grandchildren: Lisa (Holcomb) Rathsack, Heather (Morris) Littlefield, Carla Holcomb, Jennifer (Holcomb) Balo, and Ryan Kubiak. 2 Great Grandchildren; Denes and Lee Balo, along with a niece; Debbie (John) Tate, and nephews; Gary (Kathy), Allen (Vicky), James (Shelley), and Kevin (Becky) Holcomb.

Orla graduated from Gibsonburg High School in Gibsonburg, Ohio in 1947 and from the University of Toledo in 1952 with a B.S. degree in Engineering (with Aeronautical Option) and was a Reserve Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Army. He was called to active duty in 1953 during the Korean Conflict.  He, wife and baby Mark served in Kentucky, Georgia, and Colorado.  He joined the aircraft division of The Bendix Aviation Corp. in South Bend, IN in 1955.  In 1969 he joined Clark Equipment Co. in Buchanan, MI.  In 1975 he returned to Bendix in the Automotive Division.  He was awarded 8 U.S. Patents for military and commercial aircraft brakes, brake components, and off-highway vehicle brakes while employed at Bendix and Clark. An additional 2 patents were granted while consulting to AlliedSignal (successor to Bendix) after early retirement in 1986.  From 1987 through 2009, operating as “Concept II Consulting” he was self-employed in the area of brake design, product liability defense, and an expert witness for many law firms throughout the U.S. for both the defense and plaintiff.

He was a licensed private pilot, sometimes flying for business.  He and Donna flew to many places in their Skyhawk, as did family and friends.  He also helped design and piloted a unique small experimental canard airplane called "The Sunray."   

Orla's “sweetheart” Donna introduced him to Christianity in 1949 and they have been church members throughout their life, most recently of St. John's U.C. Of Christ in Niles, Michigan. Their greatest joy has been family, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who were either close by or visited often.

The funeral service for Orla Holcomb, Jr. will be at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, September 25, 2023 at Saint John’s United Church of Christ, 601 Sycamore Street in Niles with Pastor Jim Wing of Niles officiating.  Interment will follow at Silverbrook Cemetery, and will conclude with the Full Military Honors by the United States Army Honor Guard and American Legion Post #51 of Buchanan, Michigan.

The family will receive relatives and friends on Monday at the church beginning at Noon.  Contributions in memory of Orla may be made to Saint John's United Church of Christ, 601 Sycamore Street, Niles, Michigan, 49120.  Arrangements were completed at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles.  Online condolences may be left at:

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