Cover photo for Elizabeth Blank Budenholzer's Obituary
Elizabeth Blank Budenholzer Profile Photo
1932 Elizabeth 2023

Elizabeth Blank Budenholzer

January 28, 1932 — August 8, 2023

Mayor of Holbrook, Arizona, passes away


“Bloom where you are planted”

Elizabeth Blank Budenholzer, 91, passed away peacefully in the arms of her family and among friends on Monday, August 8, 2023, in Show Low, Arizona. 


Born Elizabeth Louise Blank on January 28, 1932, in Madison, Wisconsin, the oldest of three children born to Lester Marion Blank (a Senior Plant Pathologist for the Cotton Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin) and Helen Louise McNaught  (a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, a poet and genealogist). “Libby” as she was nicknamed and called by friends, was raised in College Station, Texas, where she was a Junior Olympic swimmer.  After high school she enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.  For her Junior Year her father was posted to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and as was common in those days, she moved with them, and enrolled at New Mexico State University.


It was there, at a square dance class, that she met a Senior, Alfred Vincent Budenholzer. Libby married Vince on June 6, 1952. So began an enduring marriage that lasted 70 years, with many chapters.


When Vince’s basketball coaching in New Mexico eventually brought them to the small desert town of Holbrook Arizona, they moved a family that grew to five boys and two girls. Located at the edge of the Navajo Nation on Old Highway 66, between Flagstaff and Gallup, next to the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, not a blossom in sight, Libby’s adage of “bloom where you are planted” was lived to the fullest. 


The bedrock of her large family and soon her town, all who knew her spirit understood that she cared about every human, equally, and expected each person to be a solid citizen. Her political skills and decisiveness were legendary, as was her love of grammar and mathematics. She did not get angry, she got disappointed. Anyone who met her knew within minutes she was serious about that. She brought out the brightness and sweetness in those around her and, then, she, too, smiled and was brighter and sweeter – it was a self-reinforcing philosophy.


Libby lived by example and action, showing how the plants you water are the ones that thrive: A substitute teacher needed?—she was there, all through the Holbrook Public School system, from kindergarten to High School. A clear plan for foster care? Libby on the Board.  A Budenholzer Family Reunion? – she was an adoptive mother. A new church needed? -- she became the guiding force for the construction of Our Lady of Guadeloupe Church. A new family hall needed?—she became the hidden hand. A new golf course that was watered by the waste-treatment plant? She was the power that made the desert greens. A leader for sports? – the Budenholzer name is on the high school gym floor. A cheer squad for professional sports in San Antonio, Atlanta and Milwaukee? – she was there with her t-shirt and her statistics book. Yes, and also with her smile. Her attitude was not casual, you had better blossom and come through, but it made her happy.


In the next three decades she earned the confidence of her peers and was elected first as a Councilman and then as Mayor of Holbrook Arizona. Her reputation spread through the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, she was appointed by Governor Bruce Babbitt to the Arizona Women's Commission, and her husband, Vince, became an Arizona Hall of Fame Basketball coach. 


When she retired from the Holbrook School system, she made it a point to travel the world. She traveled to every continent, some multiple times. An adventurer needed? – she was there. She and Vince found joy in collecting art from the places they visited. When not traveling the globe they moved from Holbrook to split their summers and winters between Queen Valley and Show Low, Arizona. She was an avid golfer and fierce bridge player, and she served on committees, always creating a community wherever they were. In 2022, she moved with Vince to Solterra Independent Living. 


The communities Libby created, the blossoms she allowed to flourish everywhere she went will live on – she will be remembered for her steadfastness, her sense of humor, her sharp mind and her incredible love. Her holiness was exemplary, it was peaceful yet firm, fair yet unstinting, while her love was felt by many, it was equal and pure, so that even if you had but a small portion, it filled you, inspired you, gave you a rare kind of hope.     


Libby is survived by her husband, Vince, with whom she had seven children: Jim (New York), Richard (deceased 2023– San Diego, CA, survived by his wife Joni), Joe (Los Angeles, CA and his wife Terri), Theresa (Scottsdale, AZ and her husband Jim), Helen Vinson (Saddlebrook, AZ, and her husband Karl Leavitt), Bill (Kaneohe, Hawaii, and his wife Kyung Ae) and Michael (Austin, TX); 19 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren; her brother Richard Blank (Modesto, CA); and her niece, Susan Stewart (Phoenix, AZ).              


Condolences welcome at Owens Livingston Mortuary, www.ownslivingstonmortuary.


Personal cards welcomed, please send to Vince Budenholzer, c/o Helen Vinson, 1812 W American Ave. Oracle, AZ 85623.


All are welcome to a Catholic Memorial Mass said in Libby’s name,  at 1 pm on Saturday, August 19, 2023, at St. Marys of the Angels Parish in Pinetop, Arizona. 


Also, all are welcome at any time to visit the St. Marys of the Angels Columbarium, where Libby’s cremated ashes will be interred.


In lieu of flowers Libby has asked that, after you have blossomed, financial donations would be welcome to the Budenholzer Family Scholarship Fund with the Arizona Community Foundation: Budenholzer Family Scholarship Fund – Arizona Community Foundation an endowment that funds the Libby and Vince Budenholzer Civic Service and the Mike Budenholzer Student-Athlete Scholarships for graduates of Holbrook High School.


Budenholzer Family Scholarship Fund – Arizona Community Foundation
Scholarship Fund Budenholzer Family Scholarship Fund

Budenholzer Family Scholarship Fund – Arizona Community Foundation
Scholarship Fund Budenholzer Family Scholarship Fund






To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Elizabeth Blank Budenholzer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church

1915 South Penrod Lane, Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ 85935

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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