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Circus life helped him discover fmaily roots

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Back in 1972, when he joine the Ringling bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, LDS member Tim Holst probably had no idea that his career in the circus might eventually lead to discovering some important genealogy data on his father's side of the family.

Holst, an Illinois native who grew up in Logan, Utah, and graduated in 1971 from the circus' "Clown College," spent many years traveling with his family aboard the circus train. He went from clown to singing ringmaster to assistant producer. He is now in the administrative end of the busy entertainment empire.Last year, Holst's boss, Kenneth Feld (who owns and produces three circuses, a string of ice shows and other family-oriented entertainment productions), was a judge for the prestigious International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo. Feld took Holst along to participate in the festival.

While he was ther, Holst was interviewed by the editor of a Swedish newspaper. (As a young man, Holst had swerved a mission in Sweden, but his membership and activity in the Church were not the focal points of the story. In fact, the interviewer did not know that Holst was LDS.) During the interview, Holst mentioned that he was looking for ancestors in Sweden.

A month later, Holst received a copy of the newspaper article and there were a couple of paragrphs commenting on Holst's interest in locating his Swedish ancestors.

Then, this summer, Holst received a large envelope from Sweden, containing a long letter and several photographs from a Swedish citizen who said he knew he was related to Holst.

"Because of a name change when my famiy immigrated to the United States, this was the first time we've been able to locate any relatives onmy ffather's side of the family," Holst said.

The town his family apparently came from - Hosjunga - was never listed on any of the immigration papers when the family moved, just their country of origin.

"Now that we have a living relative in Sweden, we have been able to obtain more specific data. I'm planning to take my father to Sweden to do mone hands-on genealogical research and work toward dompleting my four-genearation material," Holst said.

In his earlier days with the circus, Holst was a sort of "missionary at large," descussing the gospel with other families on the circus train. And, since the cirucs train frequently passed through larger cities where the Church had estabished new temples, he was able to do several hundred endowments yearly. He and his wife also maintained a year's supply of food in their railroad car, frequently taking advantage of regional produce that was available when they traveled through.

The Holsts settled down in a "real" home in Venice, Fla., where new editions of the circus are rehearsed and produced. They are members of the Sarasota Ward, Fort Myers Florida Stake, where he serves in the ward Young Men's presidency and just recently was called as a member of the Fort Myers Stake mission presidency.

Holst and his wife (whose claim to fame in the circus world is her publication of . . ., naturally . . ., a "three-ring circus cookbook," filled with recipes culled from a variety of ethnic backgrounds) are the parents of three children: Megan, 10; Adrenne, 7, and Matthew, 3.