Friendship and Loss: Remembering Lenny Holland

We all lose something special just when we need it most. Friendship is among these. We have a disagreement, someone moves away; we just lose touch or simply don’t make the effort to maintain the connection. Usually this friendship wasn’t a strong, bonded friendship to begin with. Although sad, this type of loss can be and is many times erased and friendships rekindled. But then there is the deep, unnerving, exasperating and frustrating loss of a strong friendship that can only be remembered and never regained.

We have all have just experienced this type of loss. With the passing of Lenny Holland, we have lost a fellow student, a colleague, a confident, a son, a love and a friend. And sadly the world has lost an aspiring newsman.

Lenny rose from reporter to associate editor here at the Southern Oregon University Siskiyou. His dedication to the news and this paper was…shall we say unnerving. Like a father’s dedication to his child or a unit commander to his troops. If I found that I needed to talk to Lenny about a photo he requested or to complain about my photo credit being wrong, I would always know where I could find him. I would simply go to the Siskiyou office, walk in the door and there he was…at the corner desk working diligently at the computer. “What you doing here?” I would ask…every time, knowing what the answer would be. I would simply shake my head and laugh when the expected “I need to get this article finished,” came from him. I sometimes expected to walk in there, see him at an old Underwood typewriter with his sleeves held up by “male” garters and wearing a green billed shade hat on his head…oh, yeah, don’t forget the ring size 12 cigar in the corner of his mouth engulfing him in a cloud of blue smoke; the ever diligent stereotypical editor. His dedication to the news was definitely a throwback to the past.

I was looking forward to following his career once he left here, wowing whatever graduate school had the intelligence to grab him up and watching him take on the news business of tomorrow with the dedication of yesteryear. I would have bought tickets to see that contest.

Lenny and I became fast friends within…maybe minutes of our collision of minds in the classes we took together. We shared thoughts about the class loads, the assignments, professors, world news and life in general. He was easy to like and easy to befriend. He lived younger than his 36 years and had a sparkle in his eyes that was unavoidable. He drew you in with his honesty and…dare I say…boyish good looks…and…being quick to smile helped too.

Lenny recently shared with me that he and Heather Halvorsen were engaged…seeing them together and the light in their eyes and joy on their faces told me this before I ever saw the ring or heard the words. I told him that I didn’t know how he got so lucky and maybe I should have a talk with Heather. Heather my dear, dear friend I am so sorry for your loss.

Lenny also confided to me about…shall we say…a disagreement he had with a certain, never to be named, professor, going toe to toe about some article for the paper. I have to say, I knew if I had been able to buy stock in Lenny Holland’s future as an editor, right then and there, I would have doubled down on my investment. I could just see him at some news paper going head-to-head with the managing editor…what a show that would be! I might even have gone to the paper he was working at and looked him up at the corner computer and asked him for a photo assignment, or two. It Would have been great to have worked with him hi the real world of news. He would have made a hell of a newsman because he was a hell of a man.

So, yes, we have lost a fellow student, a colleague, a friend, a son and for Heather, a love…and I think the news world has lost so, so much more than it will ever know.



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