James R. Holland, 89 years old, died on September 20, 2018. A self-made Georgia boy who attended the University of Georgia, where he studied journalism and wrote for the school newspaper, Holland made his way north to become a UPI reporter. New York City was good to him: he began an advertising career at J. Walter Thompson as an account executive and he met Paula Shepard of Garden City, NY, a nurse, whom he married in 1959. The couple moved to Boston where Holland became VP of Advertising-Public Relations at John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. In 1971 the Hollands and their three daughters moved to Chevy Chase, Md., where Jim drove his 1966 red Mustang downtown each day to his position at HEW before joining the Nixon administration as Assistant Postmaster General for Communications. Two years later he became White House Deputy Director of Communications to President Nixon whom he deemed "a great man." Once President Ford took office, Holland became his Assistant Press Secretary.
Holland switched gears in 1976 and moved the family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he served as Miller Brewing Company's VP of Communications. While grilling bratwurst and sipping Lowenbraus on Lake Michigan suited him, Holland returned to New York-Bronxville this time-commuting each day to 40 Rockefeller Plaza where he joined NBC as Executive VP for Communications.
His last and final move was back to the political scene in DC where he wrapped up his career as Director of Communications at AARP, a post he held for fifteen years. While far from Savannah, Jim (known as "Jimmy" in his early years) retained his southern roots, charming strangers and good friends alike with his courtly manner, soft Georgia accent and welcoming way. At his core, Jim Holland was a gentleman-a sensitive and perceptive soul who recited lines from The Odyssey and the Bible but also a hambone who burst into song, channeling the Three Tenors and Elvis Presley.
While a fan of seersucker suits, bowties and white bucks, Holland never forgot his modest upbringing in rural Georgia, described in the three books of poetry he wrote while in retirement, in between long bike rides without a helmet. His grandchildren will always remember the big "Grandpa Jim breakfasts" that included corned beef hash and his beloved grits.
Surviving him is Paula Shepard Holland, his wife of 59 years; three daughters--Kristine Holland of Washington, DC.; Carey Burwick of Boston, MA; and Jamie Holland Hull of Washington, DC, as well as eight grandchildren-Katie Burwick, Holly Burwick, James Burwick, Andrew Burwick, Paul Banks, Tom Banks, Sasha Hull and Beya Hull who carry Jim's zest for life.
A gathering of family and friends will be held on Saturday, October 20, at 4pm at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street., NW, DC. Tributes to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Jim's name to The University of Georgia's Grady School of Journalism.
Published in Savannah Morning News on Sep. 30, 2018.