James Holliday Jr., medical and church administrator

James P. Holliday Jr.
James P. Holliday Jr.
Posted: June 28, 2014

James P. Holliday Jr.'s last job before retiring from the Navy in 1969 was as a special services officer at the former Philadelphia Naval Hospital.

One day, Mr. Holliday took his sons on a tour of the wards sheltering the most severely wounded from combat in Vietnam.

"It was quite an experience for us kids to go walking around the Naval Hospital and see all these 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds with no arms and no legs," son Scott said. "It's something we'll never forget."

Mr. Holliday, 87, a former administrator at Temple University Hospital, died of heart failure Sunday, June 22, in the rehabilitation unit of ManorCare Health Services in Washington Township, where he lived.

Born in Rock Island, Ill., Mr. Holliday graduated from Rock Island High School, briefly attended Augustana College there, and entered the Navy near the end of World War II in 1945.

During the Korean War, he was a combat corpsman with a Marine tank unit.

"He started as a Navy corpsman and took a test to become an officer," though he was not a college graduate, so "it was a pretty big deal," Scott Holliday said.

"Commissioned in 1958, he was an enlisted man for 13 years, an officer for 11 years," Scott said.

Mr. Holliday was stationed as a medical administrator on the aircraft carrier Wasp during two of its 1960s recoveries of Gemini space flights, he said.

While in charge of morale at the hospital, his son said, "he had some exciting moments."

He and some wounded veterans were introduced from their seats in the audience during The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS.

Mr. Holliday also brought some of his wounded to a golf tournament at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, where they met Arnold Palmer.

After retiring from the Navy, Mr. Holliday was an administrator at the former St. Agnes Center for Advanced Burn and Wound Care in South Philadelphia until 1972.

He then was an administrator at Temple University Hospital until 1977.

His final corporate responsibility was as director of personnel for the Manhattan office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America until he retired in 1986.

"He took a bus from Mount Laurel every day," his son said. "It made for long days."

Mr. Holliday knew about endurance tests early in life, his son said. An Eagle Scout when he was 13, at one time he swam across the Mississippi from Illinois to Iowa.

Bev Huffman knew Mr. Holliday from Rock Island High School and, though she lives now in a Chicago suburb, she has kept up with the family down the decades.

Huffman's late husband, Bill, and Mr. Holliday worked together during high school at the Rock Island Arsenal.

"They had great times together," she said.

Huffman was a classmate of Mr. Holliday's wife, Marion. "He is a fine man," Huffman said, "a wonderful friend."

At Apostles Lutheran Church in Washington Township, he taught confirmation classes for 35 years.

Besides son Scott, Mr. Holliday is survived by his wife of 66 years, Marion; sons James W., Mark, Christopher, and Todd; daughter Robin Barton; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A visitation was set from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the Egizi Funeral Home, 119 Ganttown Rd., Washington Township.

A funeral service was set for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 28, at Apostles Lutheran Church, 4401 Route 42, Turnersville, with interment in Gloucester County Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Monroe Township.

Donations may be sent to the church's food ministry at www.apostleslc.org.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.egizifuneral.com.


wnaedele@phillynews.com

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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