It Takes a Family to Comfort a Family
Meldon Aitken Holjes, Jr.
Mel Holjes, 81, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and uncle passed away on December 26, 2021, in Newport News, Virginia. Mel was born on April 6, 1940, in Winston Salem, N.C. He grew up in Guilford College, North Carolina near Greensboro. Mel was the quarterback on his high school football team. In addition to playing football, he had a paper route and he also drove the school bus, taking good care of the kids on his route. Mel served his country in the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in the 101st Airborne Division as a paratrooper. Mel was always a very industrious and responsible young man.
Mel earned his undergraduate and a graduate degree in Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. He was inducted into the Engineering Honor Society of Tau Beta Pi. He was also a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and was employed by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for 38 years. He was responsible for Quality Assurance of all nuclear-fueled submarines and aircraft carriers. Mel found his work very rewarding and enjoyed the other professionals that he worked with through the years, both in the Navy and the shipyard. He also loved acting as a mentor for many new engineers that were hired.
In his leisure time, he enjoyed sailing and always wanted to be near the water, from which he gained strength and peace. He and his family spent many summers in the Morehead City and Atlantic Beach areas of North Carolina. That was the place he was the happiest. Mel learned to sail as a small child. He and his father, who was also an engineer took an old wooden canoe and created a mast and rigging, and turned it into a sailing vessel. They sailed that boat on many an inland lake around Greensboro, N.C., hence his nickname “Skip” for Skipper. He also loved reading and any kind of puzzle or math brain teaser.
His greatest joy of all was his family who meant the world to him. He so loved his wife of 45 years that they did not know where one began and the other ended. All was right with the world when they were together. Mel also loved being a father and was so grateful to have them in his life. They gave him joy and a sense of purpose and belonging that he grew from. They were his whole heart. Another joy was the privilege of being “Uncle Skip” to all his nieces who he adored. Some of his favorite memories were of them.
Mel was preceded in death by his father Meldon Aitken Holjes, his mother Eve Mae Isley Holjes, and his sister Margaret Kay Holjes. He is survived by his wife, Maria Shackelford Holjes; sons, Scott Holjes of Dover, Del., Bryan Knight Holjes (wife Michelle) of Cary, N.C., and Nathaniel Wallace Holjes (wife Deborah) of Manassas, Virginia; grandson Carter Jordan Holjes of Cary, N.C.; nieces, Beth Garzon Millwee of Aptos, CA., Sarah Young Perkins of Cary, N.C., Anna Garzon of Virginia Beach, VA., and Lydia Stewart- Artz of Jessup, MD.
A celebration to honor his life will be held for close friends and family at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations are made to The Mariner’s Museum, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606, where he spent much time enjoying nature since his retirement.
Arrangements are under the care of Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.