A man of fairness and integrity.

That's how David Holley's friends described him. Holley, a former reserve deputy with the Newton County Sheriff's Department, died Oct. 16 after several years of ill health. Funeral services are set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Clark Funeral Home, with burial to follow in New Salem Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 6 to 7 p.m. tonight at the funeral home.

"Although I knew who David E. Holley was in high school, we never really became friends until I joined the Newton County Sheriff's department in 1985 as a reserve deputy," said longtime friend Comer Parks. "It really didn't take long for our friendship to take hold and over the years we became as close as brothers."

The two worked together for many years, and operated the department's first SWAT team, training officers for duty on that squad as well.

Holley was a graduate of Crowder College and the former Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, which is now Missouri State University. He devoted his life to public service, working as a licensed clinical social worker and family counselor as well as a reserve deputy.

"David E. Holley was the finest man I've known," Parks said. "Community minded, Dave had a keen interest in Neosho and what was going on in the area. He attended city council meetings when he could and would always linger talking to fellow Neoshoans, city council members and media representatives."

With several others, Holley organized a petition drive demanding a state audit of Neosho's finances in 2010. The audit resulted in state Auditor Tom Schweich noting a "rapid deterioration" of the city's financial health between fiscal years 2007 and 2009, due to decreased revenues, cost overruns, real estate purchases, golf course subsidization and a failure to adequately monitor the city's budget and cash balances.

Holley was also a former council candidate, and served on the city's ethics committee at the time of his death.
"David and I had become good friends over the past few years," said Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson. "I always valued his opinion and he wasn't shy about sharing it — especially on city issues. He was a man of integrity. I was blessed to have known him."

Wes Franklin, the city's public relations and events coordinator and a former reporter for the Daily News, described how Holley helped him out when he first went to work for the city.

"I told him I was about to bring up a potentially controversial subject to the council," Franklin said. "I expected detractors. That council meeting, there was Dave. I told him I was glad to see him. He replied, 'Hey, when I think I'm needed, I'm here.' Simple as that. That was Dave."

Holley was also remembered for his sense of humor and his love for his friends.

"Dave was a rare friend with a huge loving heart who was always ready to interrupt his day or night to provide emotional support, give wise council, share a good hearty laugh and at times, tears," Parks said.
"The community has lost a dedicated advocate for fairness in all matters."

Franklin echoed those sentiments.

"When I heard he passed away, I was shocked and saddened," he said. "In telling my wife about Dave, I related that he was one of a few guys who was always there in the background, supporting me. I just knew he was always there, you know? Now he isn't. I will truly miss him."

Holley leaves behind a son, Benjamin and his wife, Renee, of San Diego, Calif.; brother Chris and his wife, Marsetta, of Princeton, Ind.; sister Debbie, of Neosho; and partner, Donna O'Hara, of the home.

And according to his obituary, he also leaves behind "a plethora of friends, family, and others whose lives were made better by David's good work, good humor, and noble spirit."