Lee Holland, matriarch of one of Vernon’s well-known hockey families, was also a fantastic baker. Holland died Friday, Nov. 8, at age 87. (Bowers family photo)

Well-known Okanagan hockey mom passes

Two of Vernon’s Lee Holland’s sons work for NHL organizations: Ken in Edmonton, Dennis with Dallas

Fantastic baker. Green-thumb goddess. Grandma on the go. Hockey mom extraordinaire.

Tributes are pouring in for the matriarch of one of Vernon’s best-known hockey families.

Adeline Victoria Holland – who went by Lee or Lena – died Friday at age 87.

Her late husband, Rienie, a fixture in the scorekeeper’s box at the old Vernon Civic Arena during Vernon Lakers’ games, was the founder of the annual Coca Cola Classic Vernon Winter Carnival Pee Wee Hockey Tournament, and a volunteer award is presented in his name at each tournament.

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Her oldest son, Ken, is the general manager of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, and youngest son Dennis is an NHL scout for the Dallas Stars.

READ MORE: Red Wings’ Holland happy at home

“Our mom was a pretty special lady,” said middle child Diane Bowers who, like her parents, spent many hours at the Civic Arena helping out or watching her brothers’ play. “Her health had really declined so we’re happy she is at peace now and pain-free.”

Born on March 21, 1932 at Mabel Lake, Holland met her future husband at a baseball field by the lake. They married June 20, 1953, and lived in Golden at a logging camp after they got married, where Holland worked as a cook and Rienie was a logger. When Rienie got a job with BC Hydro, the couple moved to Vernon.

Predominantly a stay-at-home mom, Holland was a cook at the Vernon Army Camp in the summer months. She also volunteered at and helped run the Civic Arena concession for the City of Vernon, worked for a jewelry store and picked apples at local farms.

“At home, she was an amazing baker and cook, and a fantastic gardener,” said Holland’s granddaughter, Karlee Bowers, one of Holland’s eight grandchildren as well as five great-grandkids (two more on the way in 2020). “Grandma literally never sat down. She was always on the go, trying to get more food for others or cleaning something.

“Often at dinner, she would say to us ‘do you need anything?’ And we’d say ‘we just need you to sit down.’”

It wasn’t only the grandkids who lived for Holland’s baking, including her legendary cinnamon buns, brownies, pies and cinnamon bread – Karlee Bowers called Holland “the absolute best hostess, and you literally couldn’t walk into her house without her offering some food she had made” – but her kids’ friends as well.

Troy Mick, longtime best friend of Dennis Holland – the pair starred in Vernon Minor Hockey together and with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winter Hawks – said his heart was broken over the death of a woman he called “a second mom.”

“Heaven gained a beautiful soul,” said Mick. “Words cannot describe how important of a role model she was to me growing up. She was just an amazing human being. She was always driving Dennis and I to all of the sports we played and made the best damn cookies ever. I thank her for the unconditional love she gave me always.”

Karlee Bowers said that even though she and her sister never lived in the same city as their beloved grandmother, Holland had a special way of building a solid and supportive relationship with them.

“She called us all the time, sent us letters and cards and gift cards for every occasion,” said Karlee. “Grandma had such a fantastic sense of humour, she was always up for a good laugh.”

A funeral date for Holland has not been finalized but it will likely be at the end of the coming week at Vernon’s Bethel Funeral Chapel.


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