Axel Holm chats with fellow members of the Facebook group Nogales Amigos during the group’s monthly luncheon in August 2014.

Axel Holm, lifelong Nogales resident and champion of local history and culture, died on Sept. 12. He was 78.

The Pimeria Alta Museum, where Holm had been a member and past president, posted news of his death to its Facebook page on Sunday, saying: “Axel Holm has become the town historian for Nogales because of his passion for documenting its history and deep appreciation of the importance of the border cities. His legacy will carry on and he will be greatly missed.”

Holm was the son of produce importer Walter Holm and Louise Holm, co-founder of the Hilltop Art Gallery. Axel Holm was active in the family business, Walter Holm & Co., for many years, and was a teacher of American history.

Axel Holm was born and lived on Pajarito Street throughout his life. He attended boarding school in Paradise Valley as a high school student and served in the Air Force before returning to his hometown.

“Nogales history and my parents taught me that Nogales is a special place,” he was quoted as saying in a 2012 story after he was named marshal of the city’s Christmas parade.

In addition to his work with the Pimeria Alta Historical Society, he served on the board of the Arizona Historical Society; the board of the Library, Archives, and Collections Committee for the State of Arizona; and the History Committee of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

In 2010, he proposed a motto for Santa Cruz County – “Birthplace of Arizona history” – that was quickly adopted by the board of supervisors.

Asked at the time about the potential impact of the new motto on the region, Holm said: “I think it improves our self-worth more than anything else and lets the world know that there’s something very important that’s taken place down here.”

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Holm’s nephew Stuart Milton wrote that he had died Saturday afternoon, “peacefully resting” surrounded by his loved ones.

According to the post, he was survived by his sister Corinne Milton; son Richard Holm; granddaughter Nelly Holm; nephews Bruce Milton, Alan Milton and Stuart Milton; and niece Marina Milton.

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