Denny Holland had a remarkable life full of experiences, including more than 30 years of active service with the FWS.  He passed away in November 2015. You can read his full obituary here.

His life partner, Kathy resides in Eufaula, Alabama and continues to be active in the association and, of course, to carry the flag of LIFE #1.

Gail BakerDenny and Kathy Holland


I had the privilege of being the first of the the Lifers Member #1.  I started the org then had much input from a whole lot of folks - Grover, French,  Quinter and many more.  I also opened the first bank account with $500 of my personal funds which later was repaid.  Jerry French was Lifer #2  & we built from there.

I don't wish to brag & don't intend to do so.  Dale Hall, then the FWS Heritage Committee Chairman charged me to start a retirees organization back in about '98-99.  Jo Quinter & I tried to go to OPM for a list of FWS retirees & hit a stone wall big time.  The answer was not just no but hell no!  Next was regions for any list that they may have.  Only R1, Rusty Hare,  had an unofficial listing of the former RO folks & it was about 150.  Grover, John Green & many others added to the list

10-12 years later, I'm burned out now but we had $31k in treasury & 2700+ names on the rolls when I gave the books & rolls to Steve Rideout.  Pat & Jerry French; Judy & Jerry Grover, Kathy & I held on.  

Steve Brimm hosted the first non-NCTC reunion @ Spearfish Nat'l Historic Fish Hatchery in 2002.  I hosted the next one @ for the National Wildlife Refuge Centennial @ Pelican Island, Melbourne  FL March  2003 with over 400 attending.  At one point I personally was on the hook for over $13,000.  We ended up slightly in the black & had a great time.  I was 69 years old then and was able to function to some extent.  Great party!  

Again none of this would have been as successful without a bunch of support from lot of cohorts.  Thank you for Jerry & Judy Grover; Pat & Jerry French & the enormous efforts they all have put in.

Now about me.  My dad went to work for USDA, Bureau of Biological Survey @ Carolina Sandhills NWR in April 1939.  I was 5.  In August 1942, dad was transferred to Wheeler & Dec 1943 dad was promoted to Mgr back to Sandhills.  Naturally the family moved also.  June of 1950 Pop was made Mgr of Santee NWR.  I graduated from Summerton HS in 1952.  The only claim to fame there was that the initial lead school desegregation case was Brigg vs Elliott which occurred during my school years (Google this one).

I worked every summer from1949 until I went into the US Army in 1954.  Shooting was over in Korea because the Chinese heard that I was coming.
Returned & went back to College in Ky picked up a degree only to learn that I need a few more hours.  By then was married to Kathy then we went to NC State & picked up another degree in 1961.  

Mr Larry Givens put me to work 2/61 @ Santee as Maintenance-man (temporary) until the register opened & was appointed GS-5 Refuge Mgr- trainee $4,045 p/a.  My take home net pay increased $1.36 per pay period. On 10/62 now with 2 daughters, I transferred to Cape Romain as primary Asst mgr GS-7.  April '64 I was promoted to Refuge Manager Holla Bend NWR, Russellville AR.  A wonderful place to learn the real job of being a project leader

Next came Eufaula NWR Eufaula Alabama.  We reluctantly left AR & drove thru Memphis TN the day after Dr M L King was assassinated.  Some turmoil.  Eufaula was also stirred up but cooler heads prevailed.  We were here from April 1968 until Mr Givens asked us to go to Back Bay NWR Complex at Virginia Beach VA.  From small southern town to megalopis. 

We moved to VA Beach 12/20/71.  20 days later 1/12/72, FWS announced that I/we were closing the refuge beach to vehicular access in April.  What a greeting we received.  April 1972 we were sued in US District Court to block the action of the Secretary(represented by me).  There were some 5,800 plaintiffs & 4 named defendants.  Sec Rogers C B Morton, Director Lynn A Greenwalt, Regional Director Richard E Griffith, & Refuge Manager Dennis F Holland.  Guess who had to carry the load of the factual testimony.

US District Court John MacKensie issued a temporary injunction blocking the total closure & instead allowed limited access which we had to administer.  We did for 21 months administering some 500 permits.  Then the judge gave us full authority & issued his release in the midst of a major avian cholera outbreak.  The crap really hit the fan.  I survived.

Next came the appeal to the US Circuit Court of Appeals.  We won!

Then the real political games got very serious.  For the next year, I was in Ass't Sec for FW& Parks Nat Reed's office  about every week to answer his questions.  I saw more of Director Greenwalt & Mr Reed than I did of my own harried staff.

I saw no end in sight for the solution except passage of time.  In July 1977 I relocated my family to Jackson MS Area Office to become Refuge Supervisor for all NWRs in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama plus 3 Animal Damage Control offices.  I had 24 Project Leaders looking to me for answers.  Great Refuge Managers & biologist tho.  In addition we were working to establish more refuges.  From 7/77 to 9/80 we added about 75,000 acres to active management!

Chincoteague NWR came open & I was selected.  I was Refuge Manager from 9/80 to 2/88.  During this time  I learned to discretely eliminate a major nude beach.  No problem from the nudist but from the gawkers  & perverts.  Interesting problem for me - when you work undercover, where do you carry your badge?  I ended up in court again but easily won.

Great living on Assateague Island with the ponies but all good things must end.  I accepted a promotion & went to Washington in Refuges as Branch Chief.  By going in I had already planned my retirement & did so 11/89.

The following Monday my new job was operator in training for Holland's Main Street House Bed & Breakfast.  Which Kathy & I ran until 12/2005.  Sold out & came back to the place we had loved for almost 40 years.   

Former Area Manager Russ Earnest in 1990 asked me if I would be interested in working on FWS history with the new training academy.  I was & have been on the official FWS Heritage Committee since the beginning until the present time.  Volunteering thru NCTC. 

I have been involved with USBS, & USFWS for about 75 years.  Too damned long but a hell of a lot of fun with great folks!!