Heaven's chorus of angels may sound a little clearer this holiday season under the direction of longtime Carson City choir and band director Larry Holloway.
He died Monday after a yearlong bout with leukemia. He was 52.
"He was an incredibly good musician," said former Carson High School band teacher C.J. Birch. "He had a great sense of tone and pitch with a great sense of how to treat children.
"By treating them in the correct way, they did what he wanted them to do."
Birch and Holloway met as colleagues in 1980, but their relationship developed over the years.
"I love him," Birch said. "He was my best friend. He was a major part of my life."
Holloway began teaching music in Carson City nearly 23 years ago at Bordewich-Bray and Fritsch elementary schools before moving to the middle school level.
He spent much of his career teaching at Eagle Valley Middle School before becoming Carson High School's band director in 2000.
Tasha Gonzales, an 18-year-old senior, took classes from Holloway in middle and high schools.
Under his tutelage, she learned to play eight instruments, but said his lessons extended beyond music.
"He did what most teachers don't do: he encouraged you to do what you wanted to do, no matter what anybody else thought about it," she said. "He taught every single one of us that we should have fun with whatever we do, whether it's a job, music, school or whatever."
Birch said he could always tell which students came from Holloway's program.
"He knew how to make a band play well together," Birch said. "They held CHS together. Without them, there would have been no band."
Birch said Holloway was also a devoted husband and father who never took life for granted.
"Larry was amused by everything," he said. "There was nothing he didn't find interesting."
Associate Superintendent Mike Watty was vice principal for two years at Eagle Valley Middle School.
Watty said Holloway volunteered his time before and after school and during the lunch hour to give individual attention to students. Still, Watty and other administrators were skeptical when Holloway proposed teaching a choir class an hour before school started.
"We didn't think there was any chance he could get middle school kids there before 7," Watty said.
But the class was a success.
"That was the kind of dynamic guy he was," Watty said. "He just had a real knack of being able to relate to the kids and have the kids relate to him. He could really motivate them."
Holloway was born March 7, 1950, in Sioux City, Iowa, to Douglas and Constance Holloway. He received his bachelor's degree in music education from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
He taught for eight years in South Dakota before moving to Carson City.
He and his wife, Judy, have two sons Bryan and Jon.
His sons were also his students. But Holloway considered all of his students to be his children.
"I have 80 kids in here, instead of just two," Holloway said in an interview with the Appeal last year. "I've always felt like my students were my kids, even before my boys were born."
Holloway earned was recognition by then-state Sen. Richard Bryan in 1999. Gov. Kenny Guinn declared a Larry Holloway Day last year.
Holloway led his band to many achievements, including several performances at Disneyland.
A celebration of his life will be held 3 p.m. Sunday in the Performance Hall of the Brewery Arts Center, 551 W. King St.