AMORY – One of Amory’s beloved doctors, Dr. Richard Hollis, passed away at age 93 March 29 at his residence. He served several years as an OB/GYN, and his legacy not only includes delivering thousands of babies but helping train several physicians to follow in his footsteps.
According to former American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) president Dr. Jim Martin, by the time Hollis retired in 1996, he estimated that he had delivered 7,500 babies and performed 10,000 gynecologic operations.
“He was a strong-willed yet compassionate physician and leader in his field. Amory was blessed to have him come back home,” said fellow retired OB/GYN Dr. Leonard Pinkley.
Hollis helped grow Gilmore hospital into a significant medical entity, and its Women’s Center was ultimately dedicated and named for him in 2002. Pinkley said Gilmore’s nursery was one of the first neonatal centers in the state under Hollis’ leadership.
He remembered Hollis as being a good recruiter.
“He was instrumental in training students while he was a clinical professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson,” he said. “Most residents from his era rotated through Amory for three months to study the gynecological surgeries Dr. Hollis performed.”
Hollis and fellow OB/GYN Dr. Marty Tucker, who is originally from Aberdeen and practices at Jackson Healthcare for Women, knew of Hollis for most of his life.
“He was the greatest motivation for me to pursue this specialty. I had opportunity to spend a three-month term in Amory during my residency, where I worked with Dr. Hollis and his partners. Being mentored by Dr. Hollis was a tremendous experience that not every resident gets. It was very satisfying and rewarding.
“Friends and colleagues were always special to him. His qualities endeared him to all. You always heard him (down the hall) before you saw him,” Tucker said.
Martin said Hollis contributed greatly to the surgical and clinical education of 44 resident physicians between 1978 and 1993.
“Stories abounded of the clinical and surgical prowess of Dr. Hollis and his partners, leading to many a resident during those years noting that the Amory rotation was the best part of their residency training,” he said.
Tucker remembers Hollis as being the first residency-trained doctor to return to his native community.
Hollis was born and raised in Amory, graduating from Amory High School in 1945. After completing his education, serving in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force and practicing elsewhere, he ultimately relocated back to Amory to practice.
He and pediatrician Dr. Wendell Stockton started their own private practice in Amory in 1963 called the Pediatrics, Physicians & Surgeons Clinic. Pinkley remembered their seamless collaboration in that Hollis served patients during pregnancy and Stockton took care of their babies as they grew up.
“They complimented each other. It was Dr. Hollis’ vision to build a full-service OB/GYN practice in Amory. That vision was accomplished,” he said.
Widely-known and well-respected
On a regional and national level, Hollis’ reputation and contributions grew greatly during the 1980s. Martin said during his years as president-elect, president and immediate past president of ACOG, Hollis was often at the White House representing its interests. At one such visit, President George H.W. Bush presented him with a couple of pairs of presidential cuff links.
“As president of ACOG, Dr. Hollis sought to elevate the importance of the doctor-patient relationship, which he considers almost like that of an extended family when it is at its best,” Martin said. “Toward that goal, he made caring the theme of his presidency and advocated for ACOG Fellows to go back to basics and take care of their patients. Consistent with that emphasis was his establishment of the President’s Community Service Award.”
In 1996 Hollis and his wife, Eloise Cappel, created the Educational Endowment Fund for District VII of the ACOG, which supports expanded and sustained funding of educational endeavors for the district, spanning from Kansas to Mexico.
Tucker credited Hollis with keeping him active with the ACOG, which eventually led to assuming the presidency of the professional organization this year. Pinkley said Hollis was the only non-academic president of ACOG, coming to the position from private practice rather than from a teaching hospital.
In association with this work, Hollis became a contributor and co-author to approximately one dozen scientific publications between 1993 and 2000.
Hollis is remembered by Amory citizens outside of his professional circles as well.
“Dr. Hollis was a dedicated servant leader at First United Methodist Church, where his guiding hand strengthened and sustained its many programs and ministries,” said Frank Durrett, who worked with him in service areas. “The church was blessed as young leaders grew, led by his example. I am certainly one of those people who is grateful for the opportunity to have served with him.”
Hollis and his wife had three children and seven grandchildren, one of whom now studies OB/GYN at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.