Memories of Pauline and Mike Holovak

I was a week away from starting my third year of law school when I boarded a Delta flight for Washington, D.C., by way of Atlanta. I was on my way to interview for a job with the Justice Department – a job which I didn’t get.

I remember sitting in my window seat and reading the morning’s Chron, specifically, the sports page. I remember that it was August of 1992, that the Astros had lost the night before, and that Warren Moon and the Oilers were arguing over his contract.

A lady sat down in the aisle seat next me and asked if I was a football fan. I responded with my default answer: I love baseball and generally don’t start paying attention to football until after the World Series. She smiled, said she understood, and asked if I was an Oilers fan when I did follow football. I said yes.

And that’s how I met Pauline Holovak, the wife of the Mike Holovak, then the general manager of the Oilers. We spoke a lot of football. We spoke of our travels – she was on her to way to Florida to visit family. She asked about my career goals, and about how I was doing in school.

She deplaned in Atlanta to catch a connecting flight, while I awaited the new people from Atlanta to step on for the flight to D.C. She wished me luck, and since we had talked about my work at the Astrodome as a member of the DiamondVision crew, she promised to pay a visit to our booth at the next home game.

I thought that was the last time I’d see her, but she kept her promise and paid me a visit. Later that season, she invited me over to her box before a game, and in this box was her husband and several of his assistants readying for the game. But he briefly took a few seconds of his time and greeted me kindly, which was more than I would have expected.

I didn’t see Ms. Holovak much after that, and Mike Holovak left the Oilers after the 1993 season. But the kindness stuck with me.

Mike Holovak died over the weekend, and I’m sure you’ll be able to read much better and much more detailed obituaries elsewhere. But I wanted to take advantage of my space here to say my goodbye, and to send my best wishes to Ms. Holovak and her family. – John Royal