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Bill Holm, renowed Minnesota author, has died

MINNEOTA -- Southwestern Minnesota lost one of its most prominent voices in the death Wednesday of author Bill Holm, say regional writers who are mourning his loss.

Holm, 65, died Wednesday at the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., according to an announcement by the Rehkamp-Horvath Funeral Directors.

"He was a gathering point for the region to think about itself,'' said Joe Amato of Marshall, an author and former colleague of Holm's at Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall. Holm taught in the English department for 27 years before retiring one year ago.

The author grew up on a farm near Minneota and in recent years divided his time between his home in the small, southwestern community and a residence he kept in Iceland.

Holm was one of Minnesota's best-known authors, and gained wide-spread acclaim for his poetry and books, among them being "Boxelder Bug Variations,'' (1985) "The Dead Get By With Everything,'' (1990), "Coming Home Crazy" (2000), and "The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth'' (1996).

Holm's contributions to the state were recognized this past year when the McKnight Foundation awarded him its prestigious Distinguished Artist Award, which carries a $50,000 stipend.

While his works captured attention and praise from throughout the state and beyond, it's Southwest Minnesota that will feel his lost the most, said Florence Dacey, an author and poet in Cottonwood. "He was such a champion for rural writers and the rural perspective and our rural values out here,'' said Dacey.

She remembers Holm most of all for his support of the arts and writers in Southwest Minnesota. He offered support to many writers and voices in the region. "He was very supportive of writers such as myself, who hadn't gained the stature he had,'' said Dacey.