Eugene Charles Holland was born on October 21, 1951, in Bremerton,
Washington. He was the first of three children to be born to Elizabeth
and Robert Holland.
When he was 8 years old, his family moved to Panama. He grew up in
Panama and graduated from high school there. He had many stories of
what it was like to be a teenager in paradise and somehow I think he
took full advantage of the situation.
He moved back to the mainland to attend college, beginning at Old
Dominion University and finishing up at the University of Maryland.
After college, Gene found employment with the Federal Government. He
eventually became the Manager of the Federal Financing Bank, an
organization responsible for consolidating the financing of federal
agency borrowing programs. Like many job titles, this leaves us with
the question, what did he really do? I asked the lawyer and got an
awfully long response. As best as I can figure out, Gene was in charge
of the day-to-day operations of the Bank. He worked closely with the
officers of the Bank who are Treasury Department officials, many of whom
are political appointees. He was the point of contact for all federal
agency programs that borrowed from the Bank and was responsible for all
loan documentation sent out by the Bank. He worked actively to
refinance many loans from the Bank issued during the high interest
period of the early 1980s. He also worked to put together debt relief
packages that were a part of the foreign assistance programs of the
He was committed to his job and frustrated by bureaucratic
incompetence. He could be very intense. There are stories of at least
two telephones that were smashed in his attempts to emphasize a point.
I do know however, that all was not frustrating and that he was
particularly pleased with two of his co-workers, Gary Burner and "his
lawyer" Pete Bieger.
Gene loved to garden. In his years on Q street, he transformed a flat
wasteland of clay into a garden with soil that could actually be turned
with a fork - not a pickax. The way he gardened was revealing of his
character. This spring, when Gene was no longer able to do the heavy
work, Steve Angle helped him plant the annuals and move some other
plants. Steve did it with his customary no-nonsense efficiency and was
in and out in a flash. Gene's comment was one of bewilderment: "Steve
did it in no time at all. He simply dug holes and put the plants in the
ground." Gene said his approach was to do it slowly and savor the
Gene loved to cook. He liked, and was particularly good at making
deserts, as opposed to say, pork roasts. He liked, and knew, and drank
With those qualifications, it is needless to say that Gene loved to
eat. Dinner parties were a special favorite. Many dinners certainly
were parties, particularly when Gene and Marty Roy and Fred Sellers and
Robert D'Antouno would scream across the table at each other in what is
their version of polite discourse. At those tables, it was frequently
difficult to be heard, but Megan and Mary Ann somehow managed to do it
and not because they had the highest pitched voices.
Gene loved to read. He was an avid reader. You name it, if it was
good, or slightly trashy, he read it. He read newspapers the Washington
Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He read
magazines. He talked me into subscribing to Vanity Fair and I remember
any number of times comparing notes on the most recent and wonderfully
shocking and scandalous article.
Of course, Gene read books. He devoured books. Biography was a
particular focus, particularly, monarchs and royals. Of these, perhaps
his most passionate interest was the British Royal Family whose lineage
and debaucheries he could catalog endlessly. Another favorite was
Catherine the Great. He also went after the current books: the
Bonfires, the Paul Kennedy stuff on the decline of great powers, and a
recent passion that I cannot fathom to this day, the Anne Rice vampire
The result was that Gene was very well informed about what was going on
in the world. He had well defined opinions that, unlike many, he could,
and would defend.
Gene loved his car. Somewhere in life he became a car fanatic I don't
know if it was the influence of Mark Levine, but that black BMW was
important, and underline the word important. Occasionally I would wake
on a Saturday morning to hear the hose running. I leave it to you to
guess who was parked in the bus stop beside the house washing and
polishing his car.
Gene was a terribly considerate and private person. He was a brave
person who did not avoid reality. As his disease was discovered and as
it progressed, he was determined not to be a burden on his family or his
friends. He was very definitely in control. He made his own
arrangements and took care of himself. During his long bout with this
plague, Gene was very pleased with the great support he received from
Dr. McDonald and his staff, Diane and Yen.
When Gene was no longer able to do it all himself, he finally turned to
his parents who have been magnificent throughout this horrible process.
When Gene said he was ready, his family, mother and father, sister,
brother and little two-year old niece were here instantly. Gene
frequently mentioned to me during our last conversations how grateful
and pleased he was to have his family here with him in the last days and
what a comfort they were.
Gene Holland died on Friday afternoon, June 7, 1991. He was just short
of 40 years old.
He leaves behind his parents, his sister Dionne, his brother Robert and
his Grandmother. He also leaves behind many good friends.
Gene, we loved you. We will all miss you tremendously.