Known as “Big John” to his family and friends, John C. Holmgreen was a successful businessman who was committed to improving education and his community.
Holmgreen was born in San Antonio and graduated from Southern Methodist University. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was awarded a Purple Heart.
He began his career in 1942 with Alamo Iron Works, an iron foundry owned by his family since 1877. Holmgreen was elected to Alamo Iron Works’ Board of Directors in 1958, became President in 1969, and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1977, a post he held until his retirement in 1987.
Holmgreen was active with both local and statewide business and civic organizations. He served as President of the San Antonio Medical Foundation, San Antonio Rotary Club, and Texas Association of Business, and in 1973, he served as Chairman of the Bexar County United Way Campaign,
A former trustee for Alamo Heights ISD, Holmgreen also served on the Board of Directors of several banks and insurance and manufacturing companies, including Texas Employers Insurance, Employers Casualty, American Industries Trust, Valero Energy Corp., and McCall Industries.
Holmgreen was a man of many interests including sailboat racing, hunting, tennis, golf, and classical music. But according to his family, which included his wife, three children and seven grandchildren, his real passion was promoting education at all levels.
In 1980, 40 years after earning his first college diploma, Holmgreen completed Trinity University's master’s of business administration (MBA) program. He taught undergraduate business management courses at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M University, Trinity University, and Schreiner College in Kerrville.
In 1982, Holmgreen led the San Antonio Medical Foundation's outreach to the education community, which culminated in the donation of 13 acres of land in the South Texas Medical Center and seed money for creation of a health magnet school in Northside ISD. That land is now home to Health Careers High School, the Nellie Reddix Center, and the John C. Holmgreen Center.
Before his death at the age of 84 on March 9, 2003, Holmgreen frequently visited his namesake school to mentor students.