David A. Hollis ’83 died December 25, 2010.
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David Andrew Hollis ’83 died December 25, 2010, in Camden, Maine, after a valiant 19-month battle with brain cancer. His two sons (Graham, 17, and Myles, 15), were with him on Christmas Eve, and his father Frank held his hand as he passed. David is also survived by his partner, Lisa Johnson of Asheville, NC; his sister Lynn and brother Richard; his sons’ mother, Lori Safford; and many other family members and friends.
David grew up in Camden and Waldoboro, Maine. In high school, he excelled in academics, sports, and music. He had a wonderfully warm baritone voice and he loved to sing. At Amherst, David was a member of the Zumbyes and the Glee Club. He spent his junior year abroad at the London School of Economics and graduated in 1983 with a degree in political science and economics. After graduation, he worked in marketing and development for various companies and the Maine Office of Business Development. He graduated from Vermont Law School in 2007, and then studied and tested for the Maine Bar exam while performing some paralegal and mediation work. He also became involved with the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Although David and I knew each other at Amherst, we became much closer friends during the 1983 Glee Club Tour and during his years working in a software startup in the San Francisco Bay Area. We got together frequently for meals, long hikes, and fascinating conversations. Visiting him after he returned to Maine, I learned first-hand of his love of sailing, his passion for remodeling the homes he lived in, and the exceptional hospitality of his family and friends. One morning he excitedly brought me to breakfast at a popular diner in a rural town so that I could experience the sound of everyday conversations conducted in an authentic Maine accent.
The spirit of our friendship involved a lot of laughter. David’s sense of humor had this “lying in wait” quality – he fronted with this sensible, unassuming, mild-mannered persona, and then would ambush you with something completely outrageous, hysterically funny, and yet somehow poignant and insightful. He could spot the irony in any situation and often made sport of the pretentions of the local yuppies. He loved the quirkiness of Zippy the Pinhead and the off-beat musings of Dave Barry.
David also loved great singers, including his favorites – Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett... His deep appreciation led him to develop wide-ranging tastes but a discerning ear. He’s the only contemporary I know of who could appreciate vocal recordings spanning many generations, from the Mills Brothers to Take 6 and Boyz 2 Men. In the 1990s, David joined the Mastersingers USA, led by Bruce McInnes and comprised of alumni from Amherst and other collegiate men's choruses.
When I reflect on my memories of David, certain qualities stand out: his sensitivity and compassion, his generosity and loyalty as a friend, his deep capacity to care for others, his soothing voice and calm demeanor, his humble and understated manner, and his uncanny ability to speak thoughtfully on almost any topic. These are some of the bright qualities – along with his enduring love – that permeate memories of him and serve as his legacy to those whose lives he’s touched.
Eric Ivory-Chambers ‘83