Thomas Gerard Holian

Published 8:14 am Saturday, May 21, 2022

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The family of Thomas Gerard Holian is saddened to announce his sudden passing on May 17, 2022 at his home in Duck. He was 70 years old.

Those who knew Thom will tell you that he was larger than life, a giant of a man who shaped the world around him with his vision, generosity, and humor.

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Thom had a lifelong love of learning. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and Religion from Saint Peter’s University and a second Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute. He grew up surfing at Rockaway Beach and later moved to Hawaii, where he could often be found catching waves at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.

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An accomplished architect, Thom designed and built hundreds of homes on the Outer Banks after moving to the area in his 20s. He started Carolina Designs with the Thibodeau family, and he was devoted to making the business more than a vacation rental company but a wonderful place for families to work and visit. His mother Mary was the first face anyone saw when walking through the front door.

Thom’s free time during his early years on the Outer Banks was spent sailing his catamaran and driving beloved sports cars like his ‘81 Porsche 911 Targa and ‘63 Corvette convertible. He pored through books on ancient history and art and loved to travel to places such as Egypt, France, and Tahiti. He spoke five languages, including Korean, which he learned just to impress his future wife Un Yong.

Thom was a cancer survivor who defied the odds time and time again. During his first bout with kidney cancer in 2004, he was told by doctors that he had just years to live. His reaction wasn’t acceptance but an outright refusal to die. With five children to think of, he began biking up to 60 miles per day to save his health, and connected himself with the most talented doctors and specialists in the country.

Just months after an experimental surgery, he was in remission, and he would go on to battle and defeat cancer four more times. He took a similar approach with any health problem over the years ­– to the point where his family started to think he was invincible because his will was so strong.

Thom’s magnificent home in Duck was years in the making. He saw it in its entirety in his mind’s eye and brought it to life with his own hands, greatly influenced by Greek, Roman, and Egyptian architecture. A glass bridge, two sphinx statues framing an underground pool, and a suspended dining room table were just a few of features he conceived for the one-of-a-kind home.

He loved to tell family and friends about the environmentally conscious design that considered the sun and the wind and everything that made the Outer Banks the place he called home.

Later in life, Thom devoted himself to his family and the community. He was a dedicated member of the First Flight High School Athletic Booster Club and went above and beyond to help friends in need. He treasured time with his children and was always looking to make them smile with a gift or a well-conceived prank.

Thom celebrated each day with a glass of cava. He would often sit on the back porch after cooking with his family and watch his three dogs play in the golden light, framed by towering columns and beautiful greenery in the place he loved most.

Thom is survived by his wife Un Yong; his five children Marshall, Alexi, Pierce, Conell, and Suki; his sister Peggy; his brother John; and many nieces, cousins, and loving family members.

A celebration of Thom’s life will be held at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 3. Flowers can be delivered directly to the venue. Please visit to share sympathies with the family and check for service details. Gallop Funeral Services, Inc. was entrusted with arrangements.