Charismatic, lifelong Gilroyan remembered

Mike Holbrook, left, shown here with his wife, Patty. Holbrook,

 To say lifelong Gilroyan Mike Holbrook was a hard worker is an
GILROY – To say lifelong Gilroyan Mike Holbrook was a hard worker is an understatement.

“He learned to be a perfectionist,” said John Tomasello, who worked alongside Holbrook laying carpet and linoleum for houses and condominiums in the late 1970s. “He was a quality worker. He really took a lot of pride in what he did.”

To give credit to Holbrook’s other qualities, however, takes some time, family members said – and a lot of adjectives.

“Everything good,” said his wife Patty, who was married to Mike for 32 years. “Charismatic, handsome,  wonderful – you name it.”

Holbrook, well known in Gilroy’s carpet and flooring industry, kept a positive outlook despite spending the last decade of his life confined to a wheelchair, died Halloween afternoon following a fire at his Montebello Drive duplex. He was 56. The Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office has not released a cause of death.

A memorial service for Holbrook was held Saturday at South Valley Community Church on Kelton Drive in Gilroy. 

“I think about that he was so full of life. Everybody remembers something about him,” Holbrook’s daughter, Amber Hackett, said. “You only remember the good time. That’s how my father was.”

She added he was “memorable in so many ways.”

In 2001, Holbrook broke his neck after he slipped and fell into a ravine while walking along a creek near Watsonville Road. For the last decade of his life, he lived as a quadriplegic, paralyzed from his neck down, family members said.

It didn’t slow him down, though.

“Oh heavens no,” Hackett laughed. “He was probably one of the most independent wheelchair people I’ve ever met. He was always showing off to everybody what kind of wheelies he could do.”

Holbrook was a 1973 graduate of Gilroy High School. By age 17, he was working for his father’s carpet business – Kenny’s Carpet – learning and perfecting his trade. For two years, he and Tomasello joined on a number of projects, including laying floors for dozens of condos.

“We did a whole city block (of condos) in Cupertino,” Tomasello remembered.

Patty Holbrook tussled with tears as she pointed to many more memories of her husband: He sponsored a child in Tanzania; he invited the homeless into his living room; and he took great pride in his daughter’s service in the U.S. Army.

“This man has the biggest heart. He was just so much fun,” Patty Holbrook said. “There wasn’t anybody that didn’t like Mike. Maybe he didn’t do everything right all the time, but he had a heart better than gold.”

He loved Gilroy, and he loved his family, she added.

“Was he proud of being born and raised here? You betcha. Was he proud of his name? You betcha,” she said.

You can make donations to the Holbrook family through Habing Family Funeral Home. 

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