Dr. Ralph T. Holman, one of The Hormel Institute’s former executive directors who is known for his pioneering research and naming of Omega-3, was selected as one of Austin’s “Pillars of City.”
The pillars, which are located near Mill Pond on North Main Street, recognize people in Austin’s past and present, who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life in Austin related to growth, economic impact, health, education, culture, recreation, communications, business or scientific innovation.
Dr. Ralph T. Holman (1918-2012) was a world-recognized biochemist and considered the pioneer researcher of Omega-3. He joined The Hormel Institute in 1951 and served as Executive Director from 1975-1985. The Hormel Institute was the world leader in lipid research because of his groundbreaking research in essential fatty acids. Dr. Holman became a member of the invitation-only National Academy of Science in recognition of his distinguished achievements in original research. Membership is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science and is considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive.
Dr. Holman, a native Minnesotan, was recruited from Texas A&M University as an established scientist with international experience. His graduate studies were at UMN with Dr. George O. Burr, the discoverer of essential fatty acids. Dr. Holman later studied with Nobel Laureate Arne Tiselius in Sweden.
Of Swedish descent, he loved Minnesota and built a Swedish log cabin in northern Minnesota, sharing his love of nature with family, friends, and colleagues. He was an orchid expert and one of the few people permitted to grow the state flower – the Showy Lady Slipper orchid (Cypripedium reginae). He was married to Karla Calais, born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, for 60 years. They had one son, Ted Holman, who now lives in Minneapolis.