Daniel Hollenkamp, of Plains, MT, passed away Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a beautiful day on Lake Koocanusa fishing with friends. Dan was returning to the boat launch to load the boat on his trailer when he apparently suffered a massive heart attack and drove into the lake, submerging both vehicle and trailer.
Born October 23, 1953 in Saint Cloud, MN, to parents Virginia and Sylvester Hollenkamp, Dan was the fifth of seven siblings with three sisters—Geraldine Finneman, Jackie McKenzie, Cindy Holland and three brothers—Gary, Benny, and Donny. Dan spent his childhood in the house his father built in St. Cloud, playing with his siblings and friends in the yards throughout the neighborhood and the alleyways between their houses. He attended St. Anthony’s Elementary, North Jr. High, and Apollo High School, graduating in 1972 with honors. He attended Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota with a football scholarship, but the love for his high school sweetheart enticed him home and he gave up the scholarship. He worked at various jobs for a couple of years including working for his father doing bridge construction.
Dan enlisted in the Navy in 1974. He became a Navy Corpsman and was stationed at Naval Regional Medical Center in Millington, Tennessee. Dan was instrumental in the improvement of emergency medical services at the naval base and in the surrounding community that was served by the medical center. He was honorably discharged in 1978 and eventually enrolled in Bemidji State University (BSU) in Bemidji, MN, where he earned a Master’s degree in wildlife biology and environmental science. Dan met his wife, Tavia, at BSU, where she was also working toward degrees; they married in 1989.
Dan always wanted to work at a job that involved being outdoors, and he dreamed of going to Alaska, as did Tavia. While Tavia was finishing a fellowship and teaching at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Dan worked for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the “fish cop” on a large fishing trawler in the Bering Sea. Being fish cop was an interesting job but was not what Dan wanted as a career, so needing to pay student loans and bring in a steady paycheck, he and Tavia moved to the west coast where they hoped they could earn enough money for a move to Alaska. They lived temporarily in Seattle, Washington while both applied for jobs in Alaska for anything from ditch digger to waitress/waiter just to get themselves there. It was agreed between them that whoever got the first job offer had to take it, no matter what it paid, while the other searched for work that was commensurate with his or her education.
Finally, figuring they needed to actually go to Alaska to apply for jobs, Dan and Tavia borrowed money from a friend and drove the entire 1,422 miles of the Alcan Highway from Dawson Creek, BC to Delta Junction, Alaska. They saw 11 other vehicles on the highway that entire journey. They were in Anchorage at a downtown motel pouring over newspaper ads and filling out job applications when they felt the earthquake that struck in a remote area of Alaska near the Aleutian Islands measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale and centered about 1,100 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Dan got a job offer first, one that fit his love of the outdoors, and it was with the Forest Service in Sitka, Alaska, the 5th largest city in Alaska with a population of 8,500. With no teaching jobs available in Sitka, Tavia began working for the Forest Service as well. Dan’s extensive personal experience, expertise, and education combined with his sensible nature and lead-by-example style enabled him to rise to the highest levels of leadership within his profession, including serving in acting management positions in Washington, DC with the Bureau of Land Management. Throughout his career, Dan pursued his profession with his passion for the outdoors, mindful of conservation for all. Along the way, whether in Alaska, Tennessee, Oregon, Missouri, Virginia, Washington, Idaho, and finally, Montana, where he and Tavia chose to retire, Dan met countless people, including many colleagues who turned into treasured, personal friends.
Dan easily made friends his entire life and was known as dependable, loyal, honest, trustworthy, and a hard worker. He was a father in the truest sense of the word. He loved unconditionally and offered his time, support, patience, experience, guidance, and resources with devotion always. As Grandpa Dan, he created opportunities to share his knowledge and expertise, including teaching his grandsons how to pee on a tree in the woods. And as with everything else, Dan was fun and thoughtful—even dressing up as a tropical Santa once for the annual family Christmas-in-July celebration and sheepishly tolerating his wife telling work colleagues and friends that he was her “Hunka-hunka burning love.”
Dan is preceded in death by his parents, Virginia and Sylvester Hollenkamp; brother, Benny; daughter, Wendy Powers; and brother-in-law, Michael McKenzie. Dan is survived by his three sisters and two brothers; his beloved wife, Tavia Hollenkamp; son and daughter-in-law Eric and Mary Powers; granddaughter Katrina Weber; grandsons Nyland, Andrew, and Thomas Powers; great-grandchildren Hailson, Sophia, Ivy, Noah, and Henry as well as aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family members and many dear friends in various places throughout the United States.
A celebration of Dan’s life will be held at Plains Bible Chapel of Plains at 6 p.m. on June 14, 2022.
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