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The Wofford pep band

The power of the gift

Richard Hollis funds scholarships for students in music groups

Richard E. Hollis ’58 loved playing his tenor saxophone in the Wofford College pep band while he was a student. While he majored in business administration, Hollis relished his time playing in that small, “pickup-style” band.

“We played for basketball games. That little Wofford pep band loved to play at every event we could, but sometimes it was difficult because money was very tight,” says the Union, S.C., native who was in the marching band at Union High School.

That’s why Hollis took advantage of the Trustee Matching Fund in order to create the Richard E. Hollis Endowed Scholarship Fund that he hopes will go to students participating in Wofford’s pep band/jazz band, currently known as “The Wofford Thundering Terrier Athletics Band and Jazz Ensemble.” Such a student is the first preference for the scholarship, created for students “of good character, academic promise and with a demonstrated financial need,” preferably students who participate or will participate in “approved musical organizations of the college.”

“This wonderful scholarship was directed to support performing music groups that have the greatest exposure to the community and alumni, which would be groups that perform at athletics events,” says Ron “Doc” Miller, director of athletic bands and jazz studies. “The WOCO Band, which includes all Jazz Ensemble class members, is the ‘pep band’ performing at all home basketball games. ... We are so grateful for Mr. Hollis’ gift.”

“I wasn’t that good at music, not like my brother,” Hollis says, explaining why he went into business instead of a musical career. His brother, the late George Truett Hollis ’49, earned his bachelor of music degree in piano performance from Yale University after graduating from Wofford. He received his bachelor of arts degree and Ph.D. in music history from the University of Southern California and later taught piano performance as well as music history at Converse College and East Los Angeles College.

When Truett Hollis died in January 2016, he left $300,000 to Wofford for the Sandor Teszler Library’s academic commons project.

After graduating from Wofford, Richard Hollis spent two years in the U.S. Navy, then went into banking, and later was a business development and marketing officer for architectural and construction management firms in the Washington, D.C., area. He spent 30 years in the Alexandria, Va., area, where he was recognized for his leadership in local civic affairs before returning to Spartanburg. He served as a member of Wofford’s Alumni Executive Council and in other volunteer positions.

Hollis says his brother “was probably the smartest of all of us (there were eight children in the family), and he tried harder. He made the Dean’s List every semester he was at Wofford.”

Later in life Truett Hollis was even more dedicated to his music, Hollis says. “He practiced every day for two hours, even up until he died. He was the pianist at Wofford even before Sam Moyer came, and Sam depended a lot on Truett.” Moyer, most famous at Wofford for the men’s vocal group Moyer’s Men, was a professor of music and art and director of the college band and glee club from 1947 until 1963.

Hollis says his brother decided to include the Sandor Teszler Library in his will because he was a major supporter of students using the library. “Throughout his life, he had given gifts to the library. He wanted to support academics — he was always upset with me if I didn’t go and study. He was a great user of the library and felt that’s where his money should go.”

“Truett Hollis’ significant gift will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the experiences of our students and faculty, allowing us to tailor spaces that contribute to the unique liberal arts education that Wofford provides,” says Kevin Reynolds, dean of the library. “The Sandor Teszler Library is nearing its 50th year of service to the Wofford community, and in that time much has changed in the information ecosystem and in the ways our students and faculty carry out their work. Thanks to Mr. Hollis’ generosity, the Wofford community will see our library begin to evolve into a 21st-century academic commons that serves as a space to contemplate, connect and create.”

Richard Hollis knows Wofford always held a special place in his brother’s heart, and that he was committed to supporting the college throughout his life and beyond. “Wofford had a profound influence on him throughout his life.”

As for Richard Hollis, Wofford’s broad liberal arts education gave him a lifetime of confidence. “It gave me the confidence to undertake different career opportunities when presented and to assume leadership positions in all of the civic and personal activities in which I was a participant,” Hollis says. “I think my desire to be an integral part of the communities where I lived and to give back to the community and to those who were less fortunate was instilled in me through my Wofford experience.” 

By Laura Hendrix Corbin