Not long after celebrating his 80th birthday, William J. Holloway, a pioneer in infectious diseases research and education, died on March 5, 2006 of complications of Parkinson disease.
Bill Holloway was born in Baltimore, Md, in 1925. From his father, a college president and Methodist bishop, he acquired a love for books and the well-spoken word along with a lifelong ability to capture and captivate an audience. Bill was a graduate of Western Maryland College and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. After completing an internship at the Delaware Hospital, he served with distinction as a wartime captain in the US Army Medical Corps in Korea from 1952 to 1954. He then began his unique, life-long career in Wilmington, Del. Bill Holloway was a practicing physician who made house calls and was also the founder and director of the Infectious Diseases Laboratory where, for decades, he carried out numerous research projects, many of them investigations of new antimicrobials. Later in his career, at the advent of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic, he became the principal investigator for research studies in the HIV Community Program for Christiana Care in Delaware. His career research efforts led to more than 200 publications, an extraordinary achievement for a man who throughout his professional life was a community-based, practicing physician.
He provided tireless and selfless leadership for his community, state, and profession. He was a master of the American College of Physicians and served the college as governor for the state of Delaware from 1988 to 1992. He served as president of the Delaware Lung Association, the Delaware Academy of Medicine, and the State Board of Medical Examiners. He was a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of American and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Edin).
In 1963, a full year before the founding of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Bill Holloway founded an annual Infectious Diseases Symposium held in Wilmington, Del, each May. From modest beginnings, this symposium grew to be one of the finest in the world, attracting the best and the brightest speakers the international infectious diseases community had to offer. The list of symposium participants reads like a who's who of the history of infectious diseases during the past 50 years. It was largely the extraordinary hospitality that Bill and his wife, Nita, provided that made so many leaders in medicine eager to travel to Wilmington, Del, to participate. Many close and enduring friendships among persons in the worldwide infectious diseases community had their beginnings in the warm, congenial environment that Bill and Nita created at these symposia. After running the symposium for 40 years, Bill turned it over to younger colleagues who promptly and appropriately renamed the event, The William J. Holloway Symposium.
A unique figure in infectious diseases, Bill Holloway was a master clinician, truly a doctors' doctor, as well as a master speaker and educator. Father to 2 sons and 4 daughters, his lucid and illuminating lectures were sprinkled with humor and photographs of his 18 grandchildren. He was always available to younger physicians as a mentor and wise counsel. The inspirational model he provided led many young doctors to pursue careers in infectious diseases, and Bill Holloway was there to provide support every step of the way. He was a friend to everyone and treated all persons, regardless of their station in life, with courtesy, kindness, and respect.
Bill loved a good joke and was an outstanding story teller. He loved a good party; no one was a better host. Bill was just plain fun to be around. He enjoyed good food and drink, classical music (Schubert), and poetry (Emily Dickinson) and loved to travel the world with his beloved wife and constant companion, Nita.
It is hard to think of another individual who so magnificently combined the attributes of charm, articulate voice, modesty, wisdom, helpfulness, kindness, and generosity of spirit. He was a great friend and a great man who lived his life with incomparable grace. It was a privilege to know him.