The best of fathers, the best of friends — that's what those who knew Hugh R. Holman the best say they miss the most.
"He was the kind of dad who would always be there for you — no matter what," said daughter Annie Holman of Farmingdale. "He was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off his back — even when or if he had nothing, he would find a way."
Her father, known as Hughie, also embodied the chill vibe so longed for in youth — and pretty much throughout life.
A lifelong biker, her father would pick up his daughter from school, on his motorcycle. "That was like one of the coolest experiences," she recalled. "People would be like ‘Your dad’s here,’ and people would come out to see; he was the biker guy."
Decades later, in 2002, Holman joined other bikers for the first 9/11 Memorial Ride.
"He’s been everywhere on his bike; he loved the outdoors," his daughter said.
Hugh Holman, of Bay Shore, died of a heart attack at home April 1. He was 67. Efforts to revive him, including CPR administered by his son, Eric, of Farmingdale, ultimately failed.
Born in Brooklyn, Holman grew up in Farmingdale and graduated from the local high school. He served as a volunteer firefighter for the East Farmingdale Fire Department for five years, his son said.
Holman’s career included stints at Grumman Corp., which closed five manufacturing sites on Long Island in 1994, and at Fairchild Aircraft, where he spent 15 years. He later retired as a maintenance manager at Radisson Hotel.
His pastimes included shooting at gun ranges, but most of all, Holman was a family man.
An outgoing personality and uncommon generosity were defining traits. "He basically always made sure if somebody needed something, or a friend needed something, he was there for them," his son said.
"He was a really great man; he loved everybody, he was always happy," he continued.
Despite back injuries, his bright outlook and welcoming spirit were undiminished.
"Before he got hurt, all of my Christmases, I could remember piles and piles of presents under the Christmas tree; it was like Disneyland," his daughter said.
"He was the king of a good time," she said.
"He was just a fun-loving guy, generous — and he always had a big smile on," she added.
Even the littlest creatures could count on him.
Kathy Diamond, a Newsday transcriber who was Holman’s landlord, recalled how her 6-pound Chihuahua, Tinkerbelle, grew so fond of spending time with Holman while she was at work that eventually the pup made her preference for a new home quite clear.
One evening, returning home from work, she said she called Tinkerbelle.
The dog climbed halfway up the stairs to her home with Diamond, paused, and "went right back downstairs" to Holman, Diamond said.
She relinquished her pet, honoring her bond with her tenant who had become a true friend.
"That's when she decided to live with him; I could never take her away … he loved her so much," Diamond said.
Tinkerbelle, now adopted by Holman’s son, was one of a number of beloved dogs and cats.
"And at one point, he even had a monkey," his daughter said.
Married three times, he and his second wife, Natalie Placa-Weiss of Farmingdale, became good friends after divorcing.
Holman was like a second father to one of her children, Katie Weiss of Ronkonkoma.
Besides Annie and Eric, survivors include his wife, Barbara Holman; siblings Janice Alto of East Islip, James Holman of Farmingdale, and Mark, Anne and Kenneth, all whom live in Venice, Florida; a stepson, Mike Layer of Massapequa; a stepdaughter, Amy Layer of Palm Bay, Florida; and a grandson, Jaxson, of Farmingdale. His first wife is Deborah Ferree of Largo, Florida.
Services will be private.