The City of White Salmon honored the city’s late longtime mayor, Roger Holen, at a council meeting last week.

Holen passed away Nov. 10. He was 84 years old.

Roger Holen

Roger Holen

The community knew Holen as White Salmon’s mayor for nearly a decade, and as the keeper of the White Salmon Inn with his wife, Janet.

Holen, an impassioned community volunteer and public servant, served two terms as White Salmon’s top government official from 1995 to 2003, and was appointed as an interim mayor in 2005. While mayor, Holen oversaw the merging of the Bingen and White Salmon police departments into one entity.

White Salmon City Clerk/Treasurer Jan Brending worked with Roger during her time as Bingen City Clerk. Brending said that without Holen and former Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel’s leadership, “I don’t think (the merger of the police departments) would have been created. And that endeavor was actually recognized by the Association of Washington Cities as a pretty special project,” one that would be looked towards by other communities as a footprint to figure out their own law enforcement solutions.

White Salmon Mayor Marla Keether said that Holen also worked with his son-in-law to get the bells working in the city hall tower.

“He came by and obviously reached out about offering to help fix the bells again,” Keethler said. “It shows just the care.”

As a volunteer, Holen served as the president of the Mid-Columbia Habitat for Humanity, was a American Red Cross Disaster Responder and was deployed nationally to hurricanes, floods and wildfires. His obituary notes that his favorite volunteering opportunity was serving on a community panel assessing Columbia High School students’ presentations of their senior projects.

He was a 29-year member of the White Salmon-Bingen Rotary Club.

Holen, born in Minneapolis in 1936, married his high school sweetheart, Janet (How) Holen, in 1936. He performed in jazz, concert, and marching bands throughout high school, later at the University of Minnesota, with the Minnesota National Guard Band, and also played tenor sax in the Denny Murphy Band. For seven years, his obituary notes, he was the announcer for the Minnesota Gophers marching band halftime show at-home games and announced their halftime show twice in Pasadena when the Gophers went to the Rose Bowl.

Holen worked for 30 years in the system analytics, litigation support, voice recognition, consulting, and international marketing before settling in White Salmon with Janet. In 1990 they purchased The Inn of White Salmon, which they would keep for 17 years before selling the property and traveling widely.

White Salmon city councilors approved a resolution last week recognizing Holen as a “valued and important resident of White Salmon contributing to the community that he and his wife lived and worked in for so many years.”

Roger was witty, open to adventure, and lived his life with integrity, his obituary notes. Contributions honoring his life can be directed to the White Salmon-Bingen Rotary Club Foundation (a 501c3 non-profit), earmarked for the Rotary Youth Exchange Program (PO Box 251 White Salmon WA 98672).