Dr. Holmberg proudly displays the Lee-Homewood Chiropractic
Heritage Award he received from the Association for the History
of Chiropractic in 1999.
Born in Alabama, William Holmberg decided he wanted
to become a chiropractor at the age of 10. He attended the
University of Alabama and spent two years in the U.S.
Army before enrolling at the Palmer School of Chiropractic,
graduating in 1955. His bride, Barb, a woman of great
charm, influenced him to stay in the area, as she was a
local girl. In return, she attended hundreds of ceremonial
dinners and cooked almost as many for Palmer students.
Together they raised two daughters, Kris and Teresa.
Bill Holmberg should not be remembered in the context
of dates, titles and awards, although there were many. Bill
Holmberg was a force of nature. In June 2010, I interviewed
Bill at his home as part of Palmer's Oral History Project. We
weren't strangers; I'd known him since he was hired as vice
president of development and alumni at Palmer College of
Chiropractic in 1984. But until 2010, he had eluded my
efforts to get him on tape.
Dr. Holmberg: "The main thing I learned was if you're
going to do something, you gotta do it to the best of your
ability or it ain't going to get done. Of all the things I did—
I jumped right in with everything whenever I did anything.
I was president of the Delta Sigma Chi [and we] always had
our annual meeting during Homecoming. When Carl
Cleveland, Jr., came up, he was the guest speaker for that
function. I don't know why, but I was so nervous during
that whole thing. I called him "Carl Junior Cleveland."
Bill always enjoyed organizational work. His good-old-boy
patter disguised a keen mind buttressed by incredible
organizational skills. He was a big-picture guy who paid
attention to the details, and he was not afraid to ask for
money for a cause he believed in. Dr. William Holmberg
and his wife, Barb, help kick off the Chiropractic Centennial
celebration on Jan. 2, 1995 at the Rose Parade in Pasadena,
Calif. (The parade was held on Jan. 2 that year because
Jan. 1 was a Sunday.)
Dr. Holmberg: "I was the chairman of the fundraising committee
for the anti-trust case. My good buddy Bob Hulsebus talked to
Jerry McAndrews, who was the executive vice president of the
ICA then. He said, ‘Bill Holmberg is always raising money; put
him in charge.' Jerry invited me and Bob over one day in 1977.
This was when the headquarters were still over in Davenport.
He said, ‘Bill, can you do this?' I said I'd think about it, [then
decided I'd do it]. I went and got a fundraising committee,
committee leaders, and I took it over. ... I had my big fundraising
committee. It boiled down to Jo Anderson, my secretary, and I
wound up having to do all of the stuff."
The fundraising was successful enough to pay the bills in the
Wilk et al. v. the AMA case and have a remainder. "Some of
the money went to Kentuckiana. Part of it went to colleges.
The last thing it went to was that big lawsuit that George
McAndrews was involved in for Blue Cross-Blue Shield in
Virginia. We donated quite a bit to that."
To many of us, Bill Holmberg was simply "Billy Bob." In
1983, Bob Hulsebus ran for president of the ICA, with Bill
on the ticket as vice president. Recalled Holmberg: "We'd be
in a board meeting and Sid [Williams] would always call me
Bob and Bob, Bill. The guy who really started pushing it was
Bruce Nordstrom, who was the executive director of the
ICA." And thus was born "Billy Bob."
Would there have been a chiropractic centennial without
Bill Holmberg? Certainly the hundred-year anniversary
would have come and gone, but the grand celebration that
brought together all the myriad factions of the profession
could have only been orchestrated by someone such as Bill.
And there aren't many with that qualification.
Dr. Holmberg: "What I enjoyed and what was the greatest
challenge was the Centennial. I was on the board of trustees
and we were all over the map. Straight, mixer, ACA, ICA,
and all that stuff. ... We were a very unified board. Trying
to balance all of the things and the tremendous amount of
money that was involved, the tremendous number of people
involved—it was just mind boggling. That's why I had to
get out of my practice. I just had to leave it. I could not
concentrate when I was in there. I'd get a million phone
calls in the afternoon when I'd get there sometimes. I would
say that [working on the centennial celebration] has been
the most gratifying."
Three thousand people together in Washington, D.C.,
"five or six thousand" in Davenport. "I've never seen so
many people come together. We raised a lot of money and
came out with money ahead. We gave $40,000 to the ACC.
We're still in business. We're not out of business yet. The
Chiropractic Centennial Foundation is still a nonprofit
entity. ... Of course, we don't have any meetings and don't
have any money. One of the last things we did in the
CCF was we set up a bicentennial endowment" (an idea
Bill credited to Don Petersen, Jr., publisher/president of
Bill was elected first vice president of the Association for
the History of Chiropractic, serving with the president of
the association and dear friend, Ken Padgett. The AHC has
held its recent board meetings in Bonita Springs, convenient
to the winter homes of both. The last time I saw Bill was in
Florida in December. I had a long drive ahead of me, so
unfortunately, I had to leave the room before he finished
that evening's rendition of "Stars Fell on Alabama."