Howard “Chick” Holderness was born on November 2, 1902, in Tarboro, North Carolina. He attended the Augusta Military Academy in Fort Defiance, Virginia, and graduated in 1919. He then attended the University of North Carolina, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1923. From there he entered Harvard University, graduating with an MBA in 1925.
Holderness then went to work for the Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company in Greensboro, North Carolina. He remained there until 1945, when he resigned to organize the firm of Holderness & Company Investments with his brother. He returned to Jefferson Standard as president in 1950, serving until 1967, when he was elected chairman of the board. He also served on the boards of Jefferson-Pilot Corporation, Jefferson Standard Broadcasting Company, Duke Power Company, Burlington Industries, Carolina Telephone & Telegraph, Randolph-Macon Women’s College, Moses Cone Memorial Hospital, and the North Carolina Memorial Hospital.
During World War II, Holderness was appointed civilian aide for North Carolina to the Secretary of the Army and served as state chairman of the USO. He was a member of the Greensboro school board from 1947 until 1957. During the 1960s, Holderness was also a member of several groups negotiating with civil rights activists, including the Human Relations Commission.
His volunteer activities include chairman of the United Community Campaign of North Carolina, president of the Greensboro Community Chest, and president and chairman of the board of the Junior Achievement of Greensboro, Inc., which he also helped found. In 1970, Holderness received the Citation for Distinguished Citizenship from the North Carolina Citizens Association. He died on May 7, 1992, at the age of 89.