When it comes to legendary families of Baldwin County, we would surely be remiss if we did not mention the Holk family. Their story began thanks to a Chicago newspaper ad promising a sunny, favorable climate by the Magnolia Springs Land Company Development. Two brothers, George and Arthur Holk, packed their families and headed south to Magnolia Springs, Alabama in 1905 where they opened a general merchandise store and bought “The Magnolia” – a riverboat to bring supplies, flour, sugar, and coffee in 100 lb sacks from Mobile.
Unfortunately, the hurricane of 1916 caused the store to flood so George went on to join the army the following year where he proudly served our country during World War I. Upon his return to Foley in 1919, he married Margaret Wooten of Harvey, IL and they grew their family with five boys throughout the years – George (“Buster”), Herbert, Arthur, Harvey, and Floyd. During this time, George built the “Holk Store” on the corner of Highway 59 & 98 in 1921. Three years later he began the deeply rooted Holk political lineage when he was elected Mayor of the City of Foley. They built their homeplace in 1926 on the corner of Camphor and Hwy 59 only to be met by tragedy five years later when their beloved mother, Margaret, died of cancer leaving a single dad, George, with five boys ages 11, 9, 7, 5, and 3. George eventually remarried Eva Walker of Foley and they had three more boys – Fred, David, and Richard. Eva’s master’s degree in psychology most definitely was put to use raising eight boys! Each son graduated Foley High School and attended college. Their son, Arthur, graduated Foley High School in 1944. After completing Auburn University with a B.S. degree in Agricultural Science in 1949, Holk returned to his hometown and began his lifetime career in the insurance industry as an Agent for State Farm and President & CEO of Baldwin Mutual Insurance Company.
Arthur is a great family man. His love story with the late Fannie Jo Holk began on a first date to Fairhope in Dean Hanson's brand new, red Dodge convertible in May 1950 and lasted for the next 64 years. They were active members of Foley United Methodist Church and raised two children - Frances Holk-Jones (married to Carl Jones) and Andy Holk – and had four grandchildren – Grayson Moore, the late Jennifer Moore, Drew Holk, and Starfish Holk. Arthur is known for his love of vehicles – especially Harleys, planes (has pilot’s license), and boats (still can be found aboard his Bertram boat named Frandy). He ranked as a top agent in Alabama and in the top 2% of all State Farm agents in the nation. True to his dedication to hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, at almost 95 years old, Arthur can still be found on most days in his Baldwin Mutual office!
In addition to his successful business career, Arthur has always had a heart for public service and philanthropy like that of his father. He has contributed greatly to the history and development of the City of Foley through his political service and community involvement. In 1952, he was elected as Councilman where he served for twenty years before eventually going on to become Mayor; serving another twenty years for the City of Foley! Arthur believes in giving back to your community. He has devoted countless hours volunteering and serving on the Boards of civic & business organizations including the Foley High School Board, Chairman and Director of the Riviera Utilities Board, the Colonial Bank Board, Director and President of Gulf Coast Title Insurance, Inc., the Mobile Land Records Board, President of the Gulf Shores Golf Club, Lifetime Member of the Auburn National Alumni Association Board, Charter Member and Past President of the Foley Rotary Club, President of the Baldwin County Auburn Alumni Association, Chairman of the Baldwin County Heart Fund, Chairman of the Baldwin County Crippled Children’s Society, Past President of the Baldwin County Shrine Club, Chairman of the State of Alabama Aeronautics Board, Past President of the Alabama League of Municipalities, Past Chairman of the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center Board, Past Chairman of the South Baldwin Health Foundation, and Past Chairman and current Board Member of the South Baldwin Healthcare Authority. His outstanding community service has been recognized by Rotary International as a Paul Harris Fellow and the Lions Club as a Melvin Jones Fellow. Arthur’s lifetime commitment to education has been recognized by Auburn University’s Samford Society & George Petrie Society. He holds the honor of being the only two-time recipient of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Free Enterprise Person of the Year award (1980 & 1996) which is given to a community leader with outstanding business accomplishments.
As you can see, the Holk family legacy continues to live strong at the heart of Baldwin county and for that we are very grateful.