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A Capital Letterman: Racine County Impact

We thank Racine County for Lou Holland Sr. — and for all those who never give up.

August 02, 2017
Lou Holland Sr posing with a football

At the risk of sounding trite, money was important to Lou Holland Sr. ’65.

It wasn’t having money, though the Racine County native earned plenty over his career. His Holland Capital Management investment firm managed some $4 billion in funds. It was learning more than earning — figuring out how to make money work for himself and for others — that made a difference in Holland’s career.

And he had to work for every chance he got.

Holland was born in rural Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, and while he was growing up, he worked long hours feeding livestock at the family business, Holland Implement Company. Though he enjoyed sports, he had to build his own weights so that he could work out, and eventually he earned an athletic scholarship to UW–Madison, where he played football and studied agricultural economics.

With the Badgers, Holland racked up a series of achievements, including scoring a touchdown in the 1963 Rose Bowl, when the UW rallied against number-one-ranked USC — but ultimately the Badgers fell short, losing 42–37. He then had a brief professional football career, helping the British Columbia Lions to win the Grey Cup (the Canadian Football League championship) in 1964.

But it was economics that truly caught Holland’s attention, and so he returned to UW–Madison, finished his degree, and entered the world of finance. This was hardly a welcoming career path for African Americans in the 1960s and 1970s.

“When I decided that I wanted to go into the investment business, they weren’t looking for African Americans to be running their money,” Holland said in a 2006 interview. “When I called on some of the big firms, they looked at me like I was crazy when I asked them if they had a job for me because they were looking for white Anglo-Saxons from Wilmette or Lake Forest.”

“When I called on some of the big firms, they looked at me like I was crazy.”

He settled in Chicago and in 1983 helped to found Hahn Holland and Grossman; in 1991, he launched Holland Capital Management. Eventually, he oversaw billions in investments and caught the attention of PBS, which included him as a regular commentator on Wall Street Week, where he shared his investment insights with viewers.

Eventually, Holland fell victim to Alzheimer’s disease, and he passed away at age 74 in 2016.

“My dad was competitive,” says his son Lou Holland Jr. BA ’86, himself a former tailback who lettered for the Badgers. “He wanted to win, but right now there is no way to fight or cure Alzheimer’s disease.”

To carry on their father’s fight, Lou Jr. and his sister, Jeannette, have joined UW–Madison’s Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, a longitudinal study looking into how dementia affects families.

We thank Racine County for Lou Holland Sr. — and for all those who never give up.

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