His name was Mike’

By By Ana Breton and By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Michael Holman was a quiet, private person who found a peaceful sanctuary in his garden.

Holman, who was called “Mike” by those who knew him, loved plants and landscaped his own house with a lot of color and very little grass.

The window in his room had the perfect view to his backyard, so he would sit, “admiring the beauty of the yard that he worked on quite often,” said his friend and roommate, Zak Syndergaard.

Fifty-three year old Holman died on Aug. 30 after falling from the Warnock Engineering Building, an incident police suspect to have been a suicide.

Holman had worked as a janitor at the U for two years, a job he chose because he wanted to work in a younger, less stressful environment than his previous work as a legal secretary, said his friend Colleen Wooten.

“He was a criminal defense attorney for 20 years and that was really stressful for him,” Wooten said. “He was always dealing with someone and he just got tired of it. He wanted a simpler life.”

When Holman left his job as a legal secretary, he recommended Wooten, who replaced him. Wooten is the wife of Bryan Wooten, a computer professional at the U’s Administrative Computing Services, who wrote a letter to The Daily Utah Chronicle last week identifying Holman, whose name had not been released by police. The letter began by saying, “His name was Mike,” and added details about his life, including how Holman graduated from Granite High School and served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.

Holman is survived by his mother, Clara; brothers, Leonard Jr. and Erik; sister, Kristina; and daughter, Amanda.

Colleen Wooten said Holman’s memorial, which took place at his house, was not really formal, and turned into a type of wake.

“It was very interesting because there were a lot of friends of his — younger and older and very eclectic — that were just meeting each other for the first time,” Colleen Wooten said. “And friends that couldn’t go sent their own friends to the memorial. There were a lot of people that cared about him.”

Syndergaard, who had been Holman’s roommate for nine months and works for a company that remodels houses, said Holman loved to watch football, go biking and cook “tasty things in the kitchen.”

Holman also loved taking walks in his garden with Syndergaard’s 1-year-old daughter, Dejah Rose.

“They would smell the flowers and then he would shake a tree while she was underneath it and she would giggle,” Syndergaard said. “He was really happy when she was there. It was a special time for both of them.”

When he wasn’t landscaping, Holman would often visit gardening stores in the area where he would find refuge from the world.

Colleen Wooten said Holman was a very spiritual person who was very honest, loved to enjoy life and “was never mean to anyone” — a phrase that was repeated in his obituary.

She said that he hadn’t been in contact with Holman for a few years between their shifts in careers. Colleen Wooten said that although Holman had distanced himself for some time, his death came “out of the blue.”

“Keep in touch with friends,” Colleen Wooten said. “Look for warning signs. Don’t let them slip away.”

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