'75 Cornersville High graduate remembered well

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mitch Hollon was an impressive fellow even in high school and his death this month shows how tragic traffic accidents can be, not just for those who remember him, but for those he'd have been able to serve through his practice of medicine.

The Marshall County Tribune has received essays about the man and his early years in Cornersville and recent news reports from South Carolina media serve as an update on a former Marshall County resident's career, cases and personality. He was an advocate for bicycling and his death resulting from a van striking him while peddling his bike has rekindled debate in that state on cyclists' right to public roads.

Here are the essays received by the Tribune about Dr. Mitchell Hollon, a respected anesthesiologist.

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Dr. Mitch Hollon remembered by classmates

By Pam Thomason

Special to the Tribune

Mitch came to Cornersville High School our freshman year from Louisiana. He walked into the classroom, tall and skinny, full head of black hair hanging down to his brows, with his head down, never looking at anyone. Little did he know, he would have to sit by me and that meant he would have to talk. We sat in alphabetical order in most of the classrooms, so since my maiden name was Haislip, he sat right behind me for four years in most every class.

It didn't take any of us long to realize what a genius he was. Mitch had an open mind and would see things very differently than anyone else, causing a lot of discussions and sometimes even a debate. He had a dry sense of humor that would not only make the class laugh but you could see the grins on the teachers faces as they turned their heads to keep from laughing. Mitch could communicate in three words what would take the rest of us two paragraphs to say.

Mitch had a plan for life and it was to become a doctor. He knew that early on. He always said he would "attempt" to conquer the field of medicine, but we all knew he would succeed. He was our Salutatorian of the graduating class of 1975. I think sitting next to him those four years forced me to make straight As because it was always a competition to see if he beat me on a test or if I beat him. My victories were not that often but when I did, I gloated and he would make some excuse that I was the teacher's pet or something. Mitch loved Marvel Comic Books and the Hulk was his favorite. He shared this with me as he would come into class, he would quietly put a comic book in front of me on my desk, meaning for me to read it and return to him the next day. Then he would question me about it.

Mitch was a great musician, playing many instruments, but he excelled at tenor sax and played in the Serenader's Band in Pulaski. During high school he loved professional basketball and played on our not so professional team out of Cornersville. He was tall and played under the basket. When he would score or do something good and the crowd would holler and applaud, he would duck his head and grin not ever showing anyone else that he was proud as well..

His love for bicycling never changed. Mitch rode all over Cornersville and to school on a bicycle. It was nothing to see him riding down the street, no hands all over town. I worked in the office at the high school during the summer each year. The school was not air conditioned at the time so while in the office I always had the windows open. You could hear his bicycle coming down the sidewalk. Mitch would stop by to tell you something funny or something for you to think about, even giving you an article to read and then come back the next day to get your opinion. He did this all over town.

Mitch was a quiet person, but once he came out of his shell and became your friend, he was a joy to know. He had a tender heart and a brilliant mind. This is the reason for his success as a doctor. I was proud that God put Mitch into our lives in Cornersville, and I am sure God is proud to have him on his team in heaven.

The class of 1975 is going to dedicate a picture in his honor at the hospital. Anyone in our class that would like to make a donation can contact me at 1731 Snake Creek Road, Belfast, TN 37019.

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HOLLON remembered by a colleague

Anonymous essay submitted by the South Carolina funeral home that was in charge of arrangements.

At the Medical University he was known for his meticulous and expert patient care, easy going manner, and dry and inventive wit. He was an excellent teacher and a favorite of patients, residents, and staff both at MUSC and at East Cooper. He always knew what to say to comfort patients. According to one of his partners, "he was the one you wanted beside you taking care of the sickest of patients."

Mitch was known for the self-effacing, dry, almost arid wit that hid beneath a seemingly taciturn exterior. Mitch was the master of saying much with very few words. His style of speech and his mannerisms endeared him to all. He was quick to share an opinion about anything especially if he saw the good-natured humor in it. He was a master of the e-mail message, crafting them with a funny, fresh and descriptive style that endeared him to his friends and served as an immediate and attractive introduction to strangers. He was never a man to boast. When paid a complement, he was always quick to deflect the conversation to something else.

Mitch loved music and played the piano, banjo, guitar and clarinet. He had a wide knowledge of popular music, musicians and musical history. He was particularly fond of playing Scott Joplin rags.

A vegetarian, he was an inventive and adventurous cook. He was a self-taught computer geek and built several home computers. He had a keen interest in finance, the markets and financial history.

Mitch loved the Blue Ridge Mountains. He was an avid runner and hiker, completing several bridge runs in the 40 minute range until a knee injury forced him to take up cycling, his true and greatest avocation. He rode several times a week and a 3,000-mile year was not unusual. He loved riding in the mountains, especially long, difficult climbs. He considered himself a "gearhead" and maintained his bicycles meticulously and built several road bikes of his own and several for friends. He was well known in the Charleston bicycling community, but was wary of riding in groups for safety reasons. He was always available to help with repairs and expert adjustments. Such was his attachment to the bicycle that he called new bicycle components "jewelry."

He was devoted sports fan, faithfully supporting his Tennessee Vols and the Porter Gaud Cyclones. He closely followed professional cycling, especially the Tour de France, recording video of every stage and updating cycling friends with text messages and commentary.

Finally, but most importantly, Mitch was a quiet man of faith. He was a member of The East Cooper Baptist Church. On the few occasions he spoke openly of his faith, he expressed an understanding that faith in Jesus Christ was the key to a relationship with God. Mitch's day-to-day humility and kindness were active displays of his love for God.