Gretchen Hollman Lainson, 105

January 25, 1916 - June 4, 2021

Hastings resident Gretchen Hollman Lainson, 105, passed away Friday, June 4, 2021, at
her home.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, July 23, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. at First
Presbyterian Church, Hastings, NE with Rev. Greg Allen-Pickett officiating. The service
will be live-streamed on Facebook at beginning
five minutes before the service. Visitation will be on Thursday, July 22, 2021, at
Livingston Butler Volland Funeral Home from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with family
present from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Memorials, can be sent to the Hastings Community
Foundation, P.O. Box 703, Hastings, NE 68901. Private condolences can be sent to the
family at Livingston Butler Volland Funeral Home & Cremation Center is
serving the family.

Gretchen (Hollman) Lainson was born in Minden, NE on January 25, 1916, to William
H. Hollman, Jr. and Grace (Adams) Hollman. Both sets of grandparents came as young
people to Minden in the 1880s, and both of her parents were born in Minden.
She graduated from the good Minden schools in 1933, and from Hastings College in
1937, magna cum laude, with a Major in English and an A.B. degree in the Liberal Arts.
She married Hal Lainson of Hastings in January of 1938, and her adult education
continued in the active civic and social organizations of Hastings. The young couple
purchased a small Victorian house on University Boulevard in 1939, and through the
seventy-two years of their married life, continued to gradually enlarge and improve the

In the first years of marriage, she served as organist for the First Presbyterian Church,
under Hayes M. Fuhr’s choral direction, an association she cherished. Later in the 1950s,
she worked closely with Dr. Fuhr as secretary to the committee to select the new,
specially designed Austin Pipe Organ for the First Presbyterian Church. Through the
years, she was active in the Women’s Association, Sunday School, the choir, and in other
committees of the Church.

Hal Lainson’s responsibilities for twenty-seven years (1950-1977), as Chairman of the
Board of Trustees of Hastings College, kept them both happily involved in the expansion
and development of the College, and their home often served for special occasions in
those early years.

Appointed to the Hastings Public Library Board in 1956, (which at that time was
combined with the Hastings Museum Board), she served nineteen years, during which
time the beloved old Carnegie Library Building, with its 13 front steps, had to be
replaced. As President of the Board, she helped lead the Community effort through the
successful bond campaign and the design and the 1963 dedication of the present Library
building. It was an exhilarating time with wonderful, dedicated people. In 2012, she
served as co-chairman of the Library Renovation and was very pleased with the new
changes and wonderful technologies the Library was able to offer.

Appointed to the Board of the Nebraska State Library Commission, she served a three-
year term and was President in 1969-1970. She received the Nebraska Outstanding
Library Trustee award in 1972.

She was a member and Secretary of the first Community Chest Board in the 1940s (now
the United Way).

Following the devastating Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s, she was appointed Co-
chairman with Mr. Russell Davidson and the City Forester to the Arbor Day Centennial
Committee to arrange for hundreds of trees to be planted by Hastings residents in 1972-
1973. She had a deep passion for trees all through her life.

A long-time member of the YWCA, she served on its Board and many committees, as
well as, on the YWCA National World Service Council. In 1996 she received the
YWCA new Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes the great contributions of
the YWCA’s early founders and many strong women through the generations since. This
recognition carries the name of Gretchen Hollman Lainson but is not awarded every year.
In 1984 she was appointed by Governor Kerry to a publicly funded state-wide Committee
of sixty-six members to study the needs of Higher Education. It was an exceptional
committee and all the recommendations were approved by the State Legislature, but only
partially funded.

She was a member of the first Nebraska Arts Council, a founding member of the
Nebraska Committee for the Humanities, and one of the founding members of “The
Friends of Loren Eiseley,” Nebraska author and archeologist.

In the late 1980s she was appointed Co-chairman of a Committee of Hastings Building
Contractors for the basic repairs to the City Auditorium. These repairs and improvements
were much enhanced in the 1990s by a dedicated committee led by the late Robert L.

As a wife, mother, homemaker, and volunteer, she was an active member in the First
Presbyterian Church; she was an eighty-two-year active member of P.E.O. Chapter G and
the Round Table Book Club, and a thirty-two-year member of “Finches,” a small book
and study club.

She served many years on the Symphony Board and helped found the original Symphony
Guild. In 1993 the Lainsons were named to the Hastings Symphony Orchestra’s Hall of

She received the Hastings College Outstanding Alumna Award in 1993 and was inducted
into the Pro Rege Society of Hastings College in 2014.

She and Hal received the “Thomas Woods III Nebraska’s Partner in the Arts” Award in

She was a member of the Dutton-Lainson Company Board of Directors for over 50 years.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Hal Lainson, in 2010, and her parents; one
brother, Edgar Adams Hollman, and sister-in-law, Evelyn Hollman; one niece, Suzanne
Hollman of Oregon; and brother-in-law and sister-in-law, John and Phyllis Lainson.

She is succeeded by two beloved daughters, Margaret (Charles) Hermes and Mary (Jorn)
Olsen; and by four grandchildren, Stephanie (Mark) Bliss; William (Amy) Hermes, of
Hastings; Erica Olsen of Studio City, California; Christopher Olsen of Barrington,
Illinois; three great-grandchildren, Lauren Bliss (Matt) Overmiller, Addyson and Collin
Hermes; and a great, great-grandchild to be born in July; nephews, Bill (Jan Mikus)
Hollman of Anacortes, Washington; Richard Hollman of Tucson, Arizona; John
(Claudia) Lainson, Jr. of Lafayette, Colorado; Peter (Pamela) Lainson of Hastings; and
nieces Wrexie (Peter) Bardaglio of Trumansburg, New York, and The Rev. Vinnie
Lainson of Warrenton, Virginia