Bill & Ramona Holt
by Karen Lyncoln
For the Pathfinder
Bill and Ramona Holt were chosen as the Alpine Artisans' 1998 Benefactors. They will be honored at the Wine and Chocolate Social to be held at the Emily A Bed & Breakfast on February 7th.
"It's very nice to be honored by your peers," said Bill Holt when he heard of their selection. "We have promoted art all over the United States, but when you're honored at home, it's very special." Ramona Holt added, "We've always been interested in the arts and have always collected art. We're very honored to be selected as benefactors."
Bill and Ramona came to Seeley Lake in 1982 when they bought the Wapiti Resort and Elkhorn Cafe and Motel. The Wapiti is not only available for weddings, family reunions, and business retreats and seminars, it is also the home of the Timber Heritage Foundation established by Bill and Ramona as a non-profit organization to preserve the heritage of the timber industry and to inform and educate the public on natural resource issues.
The foundation sponsors seminars and natural resource camps. Many of these free activities are designed for special participants - the handicapped, deaf, or blind and people with multiple sclerosis or multiple dystrophy. The foundation sponsors special programs for foster families and for youth in the Missoula High School Leadership group. In 1995 a group from Japan visited the foundation, and this year the foundation will send a delegation to Japan for a return visit.
The Holts were on the rodeo circuit for 30 years - Bill as a professional rodeo announcer and Ramona as a professional rodeo secretary. They have raised longhorn cattle on their ranch in Lolo since 1967. They were the first exporters of longhorn cattle to Australia and New Zealand, beginning in 1987. The Holts raised four boys, three of whom have remained in Montana and one who lives in Edmonton, Canada.
"We both strongly believe in doing community service," said Ramona, describing her work on the Missoula Community Hospital Board, the Missoula Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Glacier Country Tourism Board. Ramona was instrumental in starting the Soroptimist Art Show in Missoula in 1978, an annual event that is still held.
Bill is also an active volunteer, serving as the president of the Montana Historical Society; he played an important role in Montana's purchase of Virginia City. He is also on the Board of the Montana State Deaf & Blind Foundation. Also, Bill is an auctioneer and donates his time to many benefits throughout western Montana. He was the auctioneer at last year's Wine and Chocolate Social.
This year's social will start at 6 pm with Mexican hors d'oeuvre provided by the Spanish Club; donations to the club's annual fund raising efforts are welcome.
Guests will have a chance to look over the great art pieces donated by local artists and decide what they want to bid on. Wine (along with other beverages) and great homemade chocolates will be served when the silent auction begins at 7 pm. The live auction will begin after the silent auction. Proceeds from both the silent and live auctions are earmarked for the Alpine Artisans High School Scholarship Fund.