The “Massey Man”
Omar Holt made as much of a career helping others as he did selling tractors.
By Tharran E. Gaines | Photos By Jamie Cole
Considering Massey Ferguson® tractors were his life, his sendoff seemed exceptionally fitting. Omar Holt, known by his customers and neighbors as the “Massey Man,” was transported to the cemetery on a wagon pulled behind his favorite Massey Ferguson tractor, rather than in a hearse.
That was indeed the case on May 29, 2015, when the MF265 Omar had purchased new in 1976 was used to move his casket from the farm to the cemetery just down the road. In addition, his newest tractor—an MF5455—was on display outside the funeral home during the visitation.
“I was a little apprehensive about it at first,” recalls Mike Holt, one of four Holt children who grew up on the family farm. “But it was actually the funeral director’s idea, since he knew how much Dad loved his Massey tractors.”
In addition to having a special appreciation for brand of tractors on his own farm, Omar was the manager of Canaan Equipment, the Massey Ferguson dealer in nearby Canaan, Maine, from 1959 until the early 1970s. Prior to that, he owned his own milk route in the 1950s, picking up milk in 10-gallon cans from area towns and delivering it to the United Farmers in Detroit, Maine … all the while operating his own farm for 55 years.
“I can remember as a kid, Dad would come home from the store to do chores and then go back in the evening to work on a tractor,” says Mike, who now owns the family tractors. “I’d beg to go along, as long as he wasn’t going to be there until midnight. He knew more about tractors than just about anyone around. In fact, people were still coming to him to work on a tractor or ask advice almost to the day he passed away.”
Mike says one of his dad’s proudest moments was in the mid-1960s, when he won a trip to Mexico City for selling the most Massey Ferguson equipment in the Northeastern states in one year. Another time, he sold around 14 tractors to the state of Maine, and once the tractors arrived, his dealership had to tear them down and repaint everything yellow for the highway department. The following year, the state ordered another 15 or 16 tractors with backhoes and loaders. This time, Omar went straight to Massey Ferguson and got them to paint in the state colors before they were ever delivered.
“He was that well respected,” says Mike. Today, an engraved paving stone dedicated to Omar is on display at the AGCO® manufacturing facility in Jackson, Minnesota.
“Mike and his dad did everything together,” adds Mike’s wife, Betsy. “Whether it was working on a tractor, logging in the woods, cutting lumber in the sawmill that Omar owned or putting up hay, the two of them were often working as a team.”
The only problem was that even after he was “retired,” people still sought him out for advice or to help fix a tractor … even if he was in the middle of baling a field of Mike’s hay.
“He was the type who couldn’t say no to anybody,” Betsy concludes. “Even if it meant parking the tractor and baler in a field with 2,500 bales, he would stop to help.”