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The simpler, the better: Museum unveils exhibit on outdoorsman Ed Holder

Dozens gathered at the Museum of the Gulf Coast Saturday to see “The Great…Outdoors with Ed Holder” exhibit dedicated to former writer, photographer and outdoorsman Ed Holder.

The exhibit displayed many of Holder’s works that captured his personality and love for family and being at one with nature.

“It’s hard for me to describe him in a few phrases,” Ed Holder’s son Fred Holder said. “What you see is what you get.”

Holder said he was in junior high before he realized that his family wasn’t normal.

Holder said that his favorite picture at the exhibit was not one where his father was behind the camera, but in front.

“Some pictures just optimize people,” he said pointing to a black and white photo of his dad from the ‘60s in a marsh, wearing a jacket with a shotgun on his shoulder and a string of ducks around his neck. “You look at those photos and go, ‘That’s that person.’ That’s that photograph. That’s him. He just loved going. He used to say all of the time that if you don’t like going, don’t go. You don’t go to kill something. You don’t go to be successful, necessarily. You just go because you love it.”

Holder said that his dad was big on doing things with his family and not having to go through a lot of hassle to do so.

“He was big on lobbying for parks so that you wouldn’t have to have a license. If you’re taking your family, it should be cheap. It should be free. There would be special rules for if you went with your family. It should be easy and fun, instead of having to buy a crabbing license, frogging license and all of these different licenses. For someone just working, the rules get so complicated, people give up.”

Holder said that his dad was about being simple and not needing anything fancy to enjoy himself.

“For his 70th birthday, I bought him a real decent camouflage hat, because he used an old hat that he spray painted green,” he said. “Just the simpler, the better. He didn’t think he needed to go spend a lot of money.”

Jay White grew up next door to Holder and said he remembers going hunting and fishing with the Holders.

“My favorite picture of his was one he took of me when we went fishing when I was about 5 years old with a cane pole and a cork,” he said. “Every weekend I went out hunting with him for 32 years. I enjoyed that.”

Holder said that anyone really wanting to know his dad should read his Ed and Ezra stories.

“Ezra was a composite character of this old man in the woods,” he said. “He would go visit him. Dad was always teaching people how to hunt and fish, but when he went to visit Ezra, Ezra was the one teaching him. He was the city slicker that didn’t know anything.”

Ed Holder was a conservationist before there were conservationists, his son said.

“You don’t have to kill anything,” he said his father would tell him. “Just learn where everything is. Learn the characters in the story. Every forest floor tells a story. He used to teach me how to read the story. It’s amazing all of the stuff that is going on out there.

“You just walk around and you’d think you didn’t see anything. I’d do that and he’d tell me to take him to where I was. He’d tell me to look at this and this or show me how I missed something. By the time he was halfway through it, I was wondering how I could miss this much.”

Curator for the Museum of the Gulf Coast Sarah Bellian said that Holder was a passionate advocate for conservation.

“What he did masterfully was communicate to people about environmental issues,” she said. “Sometimes that makes you unpopular. Mr. Holder drew a lot of attention to that. That’s a big part of the story of the establishment of Sea Rim State Park. That’s a big part of the story of the establishment of The Big Thicket. He communicated to everyday people why they should care about these issues.”

The exhibit, which features many of Holder’s photographs, articles and hunting equipment will be on display through the year until Jan. 5.