Thursday, November 10, 2011

HAL- a GIANT of a man!


QUICK NOTE: I have posted Hal's memorial video on youtube. Click on the underlined words above Hal's picture to view the tribute.

     Play this song, the HAWAIIAN version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow while you read about Hal, a GIANT of a man! This was one of his favorite songs! After, listen to the GIGOLO song, Hal ALWAYS sang this! Finish up this memory article with another one of Hal's favorite songs, My Way. Do not just read, get into it emotionally and let the music make this an experience. Cry, laugh and remember! 

     Well here it goes, a lot of random thoughts written down to share with everyone about how much we, the Holmberg's, loved and appreciated HAL! We simply want everyone to know how great of a person Hal was and how he did so much good! His final days, he told us he always tried to be a good person. That is all you can do really, try to be a good person. If you are sincere about your commitment, as Hal was, thousands of people of all ages will literally adore you. 

     What is the most valuable thing on earth? Is it diamonds, gold, ocean view homes or orange county real estate? Over the last few weeks I believe I have found the answer. The most valuable thing on earth is life. When our time comes, we will do anything for one more day. My family has been blessed to have numerous “one more days” with our Grandpa Hal over the previous couple weeks. We got a chance to tell Hal how much he meant to us, Hal got a chance to tell us how much we meant to him, we were blessed to say we love you time and time again, we had the chance to discuss religion, we had the chance to comfort each other, we had a chance to say what we wanted to say, we had a chance to say goodbye. Wednesday afternoon, God summoned Harold Benveniste home. He went peacefully, with dignity and with his family by his side. As we left the hospital, music started playing in the rooms and halls of St. Jude Hospital. The music told everyone that a baby was just born, a new life had just entered the world.  

     My grandpa on my dad’s side passed away before my sister and I were born. My grandpa on my mom’s side passed away when I was 4 and when my sister was 2. My sister and I would have grown up without the love of a grandpa if Hal did not come into our lives. He meant so much to us. When we were younger, we would always go out to lunch. I probably ate too many Burger King Jr. Whoppers as a kid because Hal always made sure we ate whatever we wanted! When our mom made us get water because she did not want to spend the money, Hal would buy us a drink, not to mention our lunches! He was such an incredibly generous man.
     Hal was generous with his money and especially his time. He would volunteer at our school and all my teachers and principals knew him. My friends even knew him. To many of my friends he was known as the Art Masters guy or the B.U.G. man. He would volunteer with my mom to teach my elementary classes about different artists and lead them in a painting, once a month. The B.U.G. (bringing up grades) program was a mechanism to encourage kids who brought up grades in the La Habra City School District. He would emcee the dinner and magic show, held by the Kiwanis Club of La Habra. Hal organized the Kiwanis club shopping sprees where he, along with other Kiwanians, would take a dozen or more underprivileged kindergarteners, from head start, shopping for clothes before school started and at Christmas. Hal would present awards and scholarships at graduations in our community, on behalf of the Kiwanis Club. Hal worked at almost every Corn Festival for the last 20 years, raising money for the Kiwanis Club of La Habra to do all of these charitable activities. To us, Kiwanis is and was synonymous with Hal. He had a huge presence in our community and his passing will leave a noticeable void in La Habra. I think it is safe to say that, merely saying Hal will be enormously missed is a gargantuan understatement.    
    He was literally our God given grandpa! I sincerely feel like we have won the lottery by being able to have Hal in our lives. I am sure going to miss our little trips with him. I will never forget our trip to the Huntington Beach Hyatt Hotel for a night a few years back. Our last trip to San Diego, for the Kiwanis convention, this last summer will always be a warm memory. I am going to miss going to visit him and having lunch with him. I will miss seeing him every week. I will miss his made up sayings he and my mom had, like pachanga moronga, shentisay, bim boo bah, kidneys, chitlins and so much more. I will miss going to HEROES Bar and Grill every St. Patrick's day with Hal when he dressed up like a leprechaun. I will miss how FUN Hal was. I will miss how funny Hal was. I will miss how sincere, honest and loving Hal was. I will miss Hal. He has enriched our daily lives and his love will continue to have an impact for decades to come

      Hal’s passing was very different from my Grandma Holmberg’s passing earlier this year. My grandma had Alzheimer’s and it was a long goodbye. We were relieved to see her not suffer anymore. Her mind was gone and she was not the same person when God summoned her home. However, my Grandpa Hal seemed young. His mind was still totally there when he entered the twilight of his life. Although he was in constant pain, especially the last year of his life, he never complained. He was one of the strongest spirits I have ever met. He was a giant of a man, a role model, an inspiration, a friend and our loving grandpa.  He was one of the MOST IMPORTANT PERSONS in our life and we feel so blessed to have had Hal in our life. He made our family bigger and our holidays even more joyous, especially with the Chanukah parties! His family will forever be our family, with Hal looking over all of us.

     To my mom, Hal was her best friend and a father figure. To my sister and me, Hal was our Grandpa and he called us his grandchildren. To my Grandma, Hal was like a son. Hal even called my Grandma Rascon his mom. My children and my grandchildren will definitely know that there was once a legend named Hal and he changed our lives. Hal is that person in the room that, when you walk in, you immediately know you want to become friends with him. There is something captivating about every word he utters! We were lucky enough to adopt him into our family and have him adopt us into his family! 

 P.S. The Kiwanis Club of La Habra has very few members now. Unfortunately, some meetings consist of my mom, my grandma and maybe another member. This is an older club and the members have been steadily “passing away” over the years without any new members replacing them. If you would be interested in checking out the club or volunteering with their charity events, please let my mom or me know. The club currently meets every other Wednesday night at the La Habra community center. YOU DO NOT NEED TO LIVE IN LA HABRA to be in the Kiwanis Club of La Habra. Hal was a member of the club for around 20 years and did not move to La Habra until this year! Just yesterday, Hal told my mom that he thinks she will build up the Club to its former glory. If Hal ever made you laugh or smile, please consider joining the La Habra Kiwanis Club and help Hal’s selfless spirit live on in our community!

Much Love,
                   The Holmberg's - a family so blessed to have had Hal as one of their own! 


  1. Dear Matt and Liz,

    My condolences on the passing of your grandfather.

    The news of your grandfather’s passing just arrived a day after his services was held. I posted your message, that was forwarded to me in verbatim, after removing the phone numbers. Have also shared this sad news on Facebook and Twitter trying to let other colleagues of his passing.

    Can’t say I knew your grandfather, but I’m certain our paths have crossed many times at the newspaper, and I do recognize his name.

    You two take care and God bless,

  2. Edward,

    This blog is a wonderful tribute to Hal. It was a pleasure reading about him and your family.

    Best regards,

    Ken Benveniste
    Sammamish, Wa

  3. WOW! Thanks Edward, this is remarkable that so many people has seen this tribute to Hal! Thanks so much for the kind words and letting people know that the world lost a very special person. I can tell from Hal and his friends that everyone who worked at the L.A. times in its heyday have a very special place in their heart for their days at the L.A. times. I looked at your blog and thanks for posting this tribute to my grandpa.

    Hello Ken! Thanks so much. Hal inspired us and we were blessed to have him as our adopted Grandpa. We all miss him dearly.

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