Tricounty News

35th anniversary of Kimball Post Office explosion



May 13, 2011, marks the 35th anniversary of a package explosion at the Kimball Post Office that killed postal employee Ivend Holen.

Postal inspectors continue to investigate this case and are offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for mailing the bomb that resulted in the death of Mr. Holen.

If you have any information about this incident, please contact Postal Inspector K. Nichols at (651) 293-3220, or Postal Inspector V.M. Lailey at (651) 293-3237.

As reported May 20, 1976, authorities knew the bomb had been mailed, intending to kill someone, but they hadn't yet determined who. It was thought at that time it may have been meant for someone living on Route 1. $3,000 was the initial reward.

Holen had been in the post office early that Thursday morning, sorting mail as usual. At 6:42 a.m. a bomb exploded inside the post office, blowing out windows, and mortally injuring Holen. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Holen was 60 at the time of the bombing. He left a widow (Irene), four children with his late wife (Perrine) and four step-children, and 15 grandchildren. His first wife, and son Michael, preceded him in death.

Holen's funeral was at St. John's Lutheran Church in Kimball, and he was buried in Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Minneapolis. His widow Irene died in 2005.

The May 20, 1976, original article is reprinted as follows: Tension follows bombing at Kimball Post Office

Reprinted from the May 20, 1976,

Tri-County News.

An interview Monday afternoon with David W. Madden, Assistant Inspector in charge, St. Paul Division of Postal Service, produced the following facts which he authorized for publication.

First he said the fact that the explosion was caused by a bomb which came through the mail has been established. It was intended to kill someone, but that person's identity has not yet been determined.

Any information anyone can provide will be treated in strictest confidence and should it lead to the conviction of the sender of the bomb, the informer would be eligible to receive $3,000 in reward.

A variety of leads are still being made through the gathering of the materials left after the blast.

The initial report that the package might have come from Massachusetts has been completely ruled out, Mr. Madden said. (There is, incidentally, no relationship between him and the local Madden family.)

It is true that it is still thought the bomb was intended for delivery on Route 1, because of its having been placed in the accustomed area for packages intended for Route 1 delivery.

Details of the evidence being worked on are not being made public but every effort is continuing to find the intended victim and the murderer.

Everyone recalls just what he or she was doing Thursday when they heard the news that has since been made known nation-wide.

The fact that the bomb exploded at exactly 6:42 a.m. is undeniably established by the stilled hands of the post office clock.

Ivend Holen, assistant postmaster, had gone to work as usual a bit earlier than the seven o'clock requirement. It is easier, Postmaster Clayton Linn explains, to get a little head start to be ready for patrons eager to get their mail. Once the windows open at 8:30 there are always so many interruptions.

Clayton was just tying his tie, ready to leave for the post office when he received the dreaded news. Rural mail carrier Alton Greeley was on his way to the post office too when the explosion occurred.

Mrs. Paul Gannon heard the explosion from their home and looking out realized there was fire at the post office. She called to Paul who summoned the fire department. Mrs. Gannon saw through the rear door which was partly open that someone was injured and Paul called the ambulance, before leaving his home for the explosion scene.

The fire department extinguished the fire. Even as they put Ivend in the ambulance, the men felt sure that life had already left him though officially he is reported to have died en route to the hospital.

Someone had to tell Mrs. Holen. Mrs. Clayton Linn, Mrs. Loren Spaulding and Mrs. Jerry Imholte went to her home and told her what had happened.

Mrs. Holen's daughter, Kathy Boysen, was at home with her mother. Mabel Linn drove Mrs. Holen to the St. Cloud Hospital and Kathy and Mary followed so they would have a car up there if they needed it. They did not yet know that Ivend had died.

Meanwhile authorities began to arrive. The area in front of the post office, covered with shattered glass, was roped off. Spectators gathered Ð shocked, sickened, saddened, and frightened.

All day the streets were full of cars, and people gathered in groups to discuss what they had heard Ð and wondered why, why? All evening cars passed slowly, passengers peering to see what little could be seen Ð just some shattered windows, and a rope.

Work progressed inside as the very thorough investigation began. Little is actually known except by the investigators as to just what went on inside. Word spread that a bomb expert had arrived who had been successful in obtaining convictions in other bomb incidents.

Groups stood in the alley in the evening looking toward the opening where the doors had been removed but little could be seen of what was going on inside.

A huge truck, mobile unit post office from the state fair grounds arrived late that afternoon and makeshift arrangements were speedily made to put the post office back into business.

The postmaster was at first denied access to the supply of stamps, but later was given them, a large part of which were then put in the bank for safe keeping.

The postal crew Ð the postmaster, clerk Betty Stelton, the carriers and the postmaster's wife worked far into the night, sorting, distributing mail and attempting to make order out of chaos.

Everyone was concerned. Everyone understood the handicaps they worked under. Everyone was patient as work continued under tense conditions the days that followed. How long will it be before the move back to the post office building can be made? The postmaster has been assured that as soon as the insurance adjuster completes his work a full crew will be used to get it back in condition.

Clayton planned to retire in two months but he doesn't know when he will be allowed to retire now.

This is the second loss of someone with whom he has worked closely in the post office. Postmaster Roland Adkins and his wife Violet were killed in an auto crash returning from

St. Cloud Oct. 22, 1960.

Ivend will be missed by all who go to the post office. He had a ready smile and a friendly word for everyone. He was Santa's helper answering many a letter in his behalf. As Clayton Linn said, "Anything he believed in he was 100% for it." This was illustrated by his work to get a greenhouse at the high school. He had been a member of the school board and was active in the American Legion.

Still unanswered are the questions "Who is responsible for this dreadful deed?" "Who was the bomb intended to destroy?" and "Why?"

Editor's note: The reward now stands at $100,000, and this case is still officially "open." It is believed that someone knows something, and that it's now time to talk.

If you have any information about this incident, please contact Postal Inspector K. Nichols at (651) 293-3220, or Postal Inspector

V.M. Lailey at (651) 293-3237.