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                           Murrell "Skinnie" Holbert       19 May 2011
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Services for Murrell "Skinnie" Holbert, 97, of Lake  Kiowa, 
will be held at later date to be announced.

Mr. Holbert died May 19, 2011 in Denton.

He was born on Nov. 9, 1913 in Mt Vernon.

He is survived by his wife, Grace  Mary  Holbert  of  Lake 
Kiowa;  daughter,  Mary Ann Hyde  of  Irving;  son,  Pat  Holbert  of 
Greenbrier, Tenn; four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Memorial contributions in Murrell's name may be made to Home  Hospice 
of Cooke County or Abigail's Arms.

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FYI, I am forwarding my email correspondence with Skinnie Holbert's 
daughter, Mindy Hyde, re the July 3 memorial service for Skinnie in 
Gainesville, with reception at the Holbert home in Lake Kiowa. Please 
help spread this information to GSIers.  

 
Thanks and best regards, Dot 



Mary Ann, thanks so much for emailing me about the planned memorial 
service for your father, Skinnie Holbert, on July 3 in Gainesville, 
with reception at the Holbert home in Lake Kiowa. We are so sorry that 
Skinnie passed away May 19 at age 97. We looked forward to introducing 
Skinnie --- who began his GSI career in 1936 -- as a Texas Instruments 
Alumni Association life member at the TIAA annual meeting May 18. We 
sincerely regret that Skinnie could not come because he suffered a heart 
attack on Monday, May 16, and died on the day after the meeting. 

I enjoyed reminiscing with you about Skinnie, a wonderful man and a 
legendary doodlebugger. Nobody had a more adventurous life than Skinnie. 
His escape from Sumatra ahead of the invading Japanese army in World War 
II is covered in the book Engineering the World: Stories From the First 
75 Years of Texas Instruments,  TIAA will mail you copies of the book 
for you and your brother. I am attaching a draft of the notes that Dick 
Conroy took from a taped interview with Skinnie in 1995. The notes were 
provided to Max Post for the book. I was part of the retiree research 
team that Max led to produce the book.

We plan to run an item about the July 3 memorial service for Skinnie in 
the monthly electronic newsletter, TI Alumni eNews, that will be distributed 
via email about July 1. Also, I will try to find someone with whom I can 
travel to the memorial service, as I can't do highway driving.

You have our deepest sympathy in the loss of your father. In addition, you 
have to deal with repairs to the Holbert home caused by the tornado that 
hit the Gainesville area about a week before we had tornados in the Dallas 
area.
 

Best regards,

Dot Adler

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From: mary_ann_hyde@hotmail.com
To: bconroy7@sbcglobal.net
Subject: Skinnie's memorial info
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2011 13:28:09 -0500

 

The memorial will be


     July 3 at 1:00pm, at the Geo Carroll and Son Funeral Home
     602 Lindsay St.
     Gainesville, TX 76240

 
Directions to Gainesville- take I35 north from Dallas to Gainesville. 
Exit on California St. Turn right. Follow California St. to Lindsay St. 
(the street before the railroad track) and turn right. 


Please tell everyone to join us for a reception immediately afterwards at 
Skinnie and Gracie's home in Lake Kiowa. 

 
Directions to Lake Kiowa - Go back to California St. and turn right. Follow 
California street through the stop light to the first stop SIGN. Turn right 
and follow this road until it deadends in 902. Turn left on 902 and travel 
to the blinking lights. At the blinking lights, turn left into Lake Kiowa 
and get in the left lane. Just past the gate, take the left fork and stay 
on Kiowa Drive ( a very curvy road) for several miles until you come to 
Sarsi Cove ( if you come to the club house you have gone one street too far). 
Turn right. Skinnie's house is 104 Sarsi Cove.  

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Notes from Video Tape ? Skinny Holbert (tape made in 1995) ? copied by 
Dick Conroy and sent to us in May 2004

Tape #1
?	Joined GSI in Alabama in 1936-37. Mr. Gabey was party chief. 
Skinny?s first job was ?water truck? driver. He hadn?t been on the job 
long when he came upon a truck stuck in the mud. He refused to use his 
truck to pull out the one in the mud, as he had been instructed earlier 
by Mr. Gabey. Later on he found out that the truck belonged to their 
client, Pure Oil ? and he thought he might get fired.

?	GSI crews moved a lot ? ?If the dip wasn?t in the right 
direction, we left in a week.? Almost everyone on the crew seemed 
to have a nickname ? Grandpa, Skinny, Shorty, Pinky, etc.

?	His next move was to Homa, La. ? in the swamp.

?	At first, he was on the ?daily? payroll ? that is, he was paid 
in cash by the crew chief. Later on, he was added to the ?Dallas payroll? 
? then he felt like he had a real job.

?	Story of prank played on Joe in Homa ? the only one with a car. 
He had promised to take the group to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but 
found a girl friend and reneged on the promise. They got even by finding 
an old man to send up to his room early in the morning and wake him up.

?	Skinny volunteered to go to New Guinea and was sent to Dallas to 
talk with Erik Jonsson. But Skinny didn?t pass the physical because of a 
problem with tonsils ? so he had to have them removed and by the time he 
had healed it was too late for New Guinea, so he volunteered for Saudi 
Arabia.

?	?Good outfit? ? he got paid while waiting for orders for Saudi.

?	Nov. 1938, set sail on SS New York ? went first class ? 8 days 
to France, then went by fast train to Paris. Standard Cal. was the 
client and paid for everything. Then left on the Orient Express (south) 
? through Switzerland and on to Italy and finally to Istanbul, Turkey. 
Then another train, then a bus across to Damascus, Syria by night ? 
then to Bahrain and eventually to Dahran.

?	Not many foreign workers were in Dahran at the time ? ate in 
the mess hall.

?	First camp was close to the Kuwait border. Jim Gearvy was 
party chief of the first crew into Saudi. Skinny was on the second 
crew in Saudi. They lived in tents ? had one fan in the mess hall 
(also a tent). Went to work at daylight and quit when it got too hot 
(usually 1-2 p.m.)

?	Story about Boog Arnold ? who took his coolies rabbit hunting 
at night (by hand), but on one trip he blinded an animal with the light 
and caught it, but couldn?t let go ? it was a desert bobcat. His fame 
spread through all the crews as ?the man who caught a bobcat by hand.?

?	Story of problems in paying the local workers (would only take coins)

?	1st telephone line in Saudi and reaction of local people.

?	Skinny was in Beruit when the French declared war on Germany.

?	GSI decided to take crew out of Saudi ? he sailed back to US 
by way of South Africa and then to NY. From NY, he flew to Dallas ? 
the first time he had ever been on a plane. After the stewardess 
served him a meal, he didn?t know what to do, so he left a tip. 
She brought it back!

?	After returning to Dallas, he was sent to Lake Charles and 
later to Center, Texas.

?	In the fall of 1940, call went out for people to go to 
Sumatra ? Sab also volunteered. They left (flew to California) ? 
then took boat (loaded with Chinese and Japanese who were leaving 
for Asia, also lots of Americans on boat). It took 8 days to get 
to Hawaii ? they bypassed Yokahama, but went to Shanghi ? then to 
Philippines and to Singapore and Maylan Straits. Then they flew to 
Madam (HQ for CalTex). 

?	Then flew to ------, then by smaller boat up the river to 
the camp (took 6-8 hours). Then they walked  mile up hill in the 
rain to get to the camp. Upon arriving, he was told that they had 
a little problem last night, ?The tiger ate the cook.?

?	1000 people were involved in the operation ? everything 
had to be backpacked ? no roads. The moved every other day. It was 
very well organized by the Dutch.

?	All the time Skinny was in Sumatra, he never saw the 
surveyors or the drillers ? they were always ahead of the rest 
of the crew. They shot 12 profiles a day ? never more, never less.

?	One man in the camp had a shotgun and was up in a stand. 
His job was to lookout for the tigers. You never got out at night 
? the tigers would follow you down the trail.

?	Baboons were everywhere, also elephants.

?	You worked on instruments by night with kerosene lanterns 
? had no radios.

?	On 8 Dec. 1941, a runner came into the camp and told them 
the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In 2-3 weeks, had directive 
from HQ of customer to split out into 2 groups ? one group was to 
bury supplies and food where it could be later found and the other 
group was to dig a hole to bury their equipment (placing it on palets 
and sticks of dynamite, but no caps in place) in case they would need 
to come back and blow it up on short notice.

?	They know the Japanese were coming to Sumatra because of the 
oil ? it was essential to their war effort.

?	They rented cars and it took 2 days to get to the southern 
end of Sumatra to Batavia. CalTex had made arrangements for the hotel.

?	Big shot military people were coming through. They talked to 
a general who was at the hotel. Also, there was a group of military 
from Ft. Hood in the area, but they had no equipment ? it had been 
lost at sea. Boats were pouring in from Singapore.

?	It was decided that they should go to Saudi Arabia ? three 
GSIers had already left by freighter. The Japanese had started 
bombing nearby and the roads were blocked. They took a train at 
night to a port city and waited 3-4 days. ?Craig and I went to a 
movie ? coming home afterwards, a soldier stuck a bayonet in their 
face and told they to stay inside.

?	They took an old Dutch coal burner boat and set sail at 
night (Craig and Skinny). The next day they were sitting on deck 
when they saw ripples in the water. At first they thought it might 
be a large fish or whale, then they realized they were being shelled 
-- it was a submarine ? then the torpedo hit and blew a hole in the 
side of he ship. They ran for the lifeboats.

?	There were 25-30 in the life boat ? it was overloaded and 
powered by a sail. Finally the submarine submerged. The Dutch ship 
went down in 10-15 minutes ? there was stuff floating all over the 
surface. The survivors were in 15-20 boats. The Captain had a motor 
in his boat. He told us to follow him in a line.

?	Finally a Dutch flying boat came over and signalled. 
Eventually, they saw a ship. They had to climb a cargo net to get 
in to the rescue ship. It was Admiral Hart?s yacht (a US admiral).

?	Skinny lost his shoes in the process, but was otherwise 
o.k. They were taken back to the hotel in Saravaio.

?	In a few days, they got a train and went back to Batvia. 
?We could see the Japanese on Sumatra ? boats (?) everywhere.?

?	Then in a few days, they told us to get on a boat (an 
English ship out of Singapore loaded with Caterpillar tractors). 
It had been shot up by the Japanese in Singapore. When it left, 
we were in a convoy. They asked for volunteers on board and all 
the GSIers volunteered to stand watch.

?	?We woke up one morning and we were all alone.? The other 
ships were gone. Unknown to GSIers, the boat was headed for Rangoon 
to unload the Caterpillar tractors, but Rangoon fell to the 
Japanese and the ship was directed to Ceylon (off India)

?	Finally they got on an old train in India ? then crossed 
the desert to Karachi. CalTex people met the train all along the 
way to make sure we were o.k.

?	Then they got on an Imperial Flight to Baharain ? then 
back to Saudi Arabia. Set up camp in Riyadh ? worked on a canal 
project for govt. of Saudi for period of time.

?	1942 ? Max Steinakie ? was father of oil in Arabia. He 
called GSI about the King. The US Govt. at that time didn?t have 
relations with Saudi. Adm. Kirk was to come and present his papers. 
Max called GSI and asked them to contact the King and find out 
where the King would be so the Ambassador could come and present 
his papers. Max said to talk to the top soldier and tell him that 
Max sent them.

?	They spent the night and waited to see the King the next 
morning. The King received them ? they gave the message. The King 
said he would be hunting (his annual gazelle hunt). So Skinny asked 
the King is they could meet him in the field. The King said yes.

?	So they called Max on the radio and he told them they 
were to pick the air strip for the landing.

?	The King traveled in a Chrysler Imperial ? it was like 
a Barnum & Baily circus ? tents everywhere. Skinny and his GSI 
associate picked a landing strip and set up flares (diesel fuel) 
? they made radio contact with Max on the way on a DC-3. This 
was in the daytime and they had to get soldiers to get people 
off the runway.  

?	The next day, Max went with the Admiral to present his 
papers (Max spoke Arabic) to the King in his tent. This was 
needed to get airspace rights to fly over Saudi airspace.

?	After the banquet, everyone had a choice of a watch 
(pocket or wristwatch). Skinny still has his pocket watch.

?	?We got mail by camel ? it didn?t come often.? 

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Skinny Holbert
104 Sarsi Cove
Lake Kiowa, TX  76240
940-665-1549

 Visit of 10-19-07 (with Art Mills and Ed Hassler)

Skinny will be 94 next month (Nov.). He and his wife, Grace (Jostran), celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary 
on Oct. 18. Her birthday is on Oct. 12. They have a son in Nashville and a daughter, Mary Francis, in Irving, 
TX. Grace was working for Cecil Green when she met Skinny. They later married and moved to Columbia.

Skinny spent most of his time with GSI in international assignments.

He told about one of their camps in remote part of Columbia ? they had about 100 mules which were used to carry 
supplies and equipment and one white horse. Someone would lead the white horse with a bridal, and the mules 
would follow. They sometimes had to go up the river on barges. They would lead the white horse onto the barge 
and the mules would follow.