Holland Lee Hendrix Passes Away


Sad news. Holly Hendrix was the man (then a senior Ph.D. student) who convinced me to go to Harvard Divinity School and study New Testament and Judaism for a masters degree on my way to a Ph.D. He gave me a whole slide show to get me interested and excited. Most of my family and friends thought I was nuts, but he was persuasive, and the course of my life changed.

I remember Holly chain smoking cigarettes in the library lounge during bull sessions. I roomed with him in Thasos (Greece) during a summer archaeological dig–he was the head of our team; I was a young graduate student. I recall swimming in the ocean in the afternoon with other grad students and him, laughing, and soaking up the sun. I recall evenings of ouzo and late nights of scotch (I was not much of a drinker, but he enjoyed himself), followed by cold Greek sink-water instant coffee in the morning (disgusting, but classic Holly). Holly would stay up half the night preparing for the next day of digging, while I tried to sleep.

Holly was a lot of fun to travel with. One time we went on a joint trip with HDS and Haverford (where he was teaching), and I watched him relate to his students who clearly loved him. He was also a fantastic dancer, and I saw him once walk into a Greek disco (Athens, I think) and just let loose. I still wish I could dance like that. Do people remember the string quartets with Helmut Koester? Helmut could not play the violin very well, but he loved to play. Holly played the viola (if I recall correctly), and he was a very good musician. I cannot get the picture out of my mind of Helmut sawing away with Holly and others masterfully playing their instruments: a very funny juxtaxposition both of musicianship and power.

I am sad to hear this news and recall him fondly as one of the primary people who set me on my professional path in life–in many ways.


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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.

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5 Responses to “Holland Lee Hendrix Passes Away”

  1. Lauren says:

    Holly, was my great uncle and for all practical purposes filled the role of father/grandfather after his brother Clyde (my grandfather passed away when I was young). Uncle Holly filled the role of father and sounding board to my mother Holly (my grandparents named her after her uncle) and the role of inspiring, fun loving grandfather to my sisters and me. I enjoyed reading this post about him. He is my inspiration to continue my education and never stop pursuing academics and challenging subjects. Perhaps one day I can take all of his works and research that my mother inherited and find a way to share and catalog them so his academic achievements may be preserved. To the chain smoking, delightfully challenging, and down right determined Holly Hendrix I hope we can all leave a mark on the world like he did.

    • Thank you Lauren. I just wrote to the other Holly–your mom–who left me a message too. Take a look at that. You might find it interesting. I’m a natural scholar–just fit me like a glove. But Holly had this really extroverted sided where he could let loose and take over a room. I admired that energy and looked up to it. So he had the intellectual part, but he also had a people part. So many people felt welcome in his presence. And he was FUN. I always had a good time with him. And the good times are what make the more difficult periods tolerable. When I feel Holly’s presence now, that energy is just so palpable. It puts a smile on my face. Your comments about the family role of Holly don’t surprise me, but warm my heart. I’m so glad to hear that he had that kind of influence on you and your mom. That’s a blessing for you and your family.

  2. Holly Hendrix says:

    I just stumbled upon this and wanted to reach out and let you know how much I enjoyed reading your Holly stories and recollections. I am his niece and namesake, but sadly we never got to travel together as we planned. Our times were spent with me visiting in whatever cities he lived in at the time. Late nights, deep conversations and endless stories were key to every visit. This made article made me smile.

    • Wow. To see your name like that is something. Yes, “deep conversations” and “endless stories,” that’s the Holly I knew. I still feel his presence with me. I really do. So I miss him, but, when I think of him, I smile as you do, and he’s right there at my side. And, yes, it was quite an experience to travel with Holly in Greece and hang out with him on a dig on Thasos. I was 24/25, and I’m sure I was not always a picnic of a roommate or a digger. Holly was up and at ’em every morning even with his disgusting Sanka after a night of scotch, but he was more awake than I was. He taught me a whole lot about archaeology, and I still use the insights I gleaned from him. It’s hard to understate the impact he had on my life. If he had not given me that slide and light show in 1979, my life would have taken a different course.

  3. Greg says:

    I have been watching the PBS special on early Christians with Holland Hendrix and googled just because I feel so entertained by his stories and rich colorful analysis. So pleasantly surprised to come across this thread with some of his family members commenting! I spent some years as an academic but have changed course.. I can very much imagine how he affected everyone around him with energy and intellect. I feel like a lot of academics have a “Holly” who lit a fire in them, usually a passionate advisor or the like. He seems like a very fun person, and obviously loved family based on his kin comments. After googling him I was sorry to see he had passed. Thank you for the stories.

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