William Holland, executive with top accounting firm

William J. Holland
William J. Holland
Posted: August 08, 2014

William J. Holland, 85, formerly of Berwyn, an accountant who rose to become an executive with Coopers & Lybrand, died Thursday, July 31, of congestive heart failure at the Bellingham Retirement Community, West Chester.

Mr. Holland had lived at the facility for the last several months, said his son-in-law, Bob Logan. Before that, he lived in Berwyn, Wayne, and Stone Harbor, N.J.

Mr. Holland had only one employer. He worked as a certified public accountant on the audit staff, starting in 1952, for what was then Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery. (The firm became Coopers & Lybrand and, later, PwC.)

Most of his time was spent as a management consultant for clients worldwide. Mr. Holland made partner in 1963, and vice chairman in 1972. He was named to the new post of deputy chairman in 1984, the second-ranking job in the Big Eight accounting firm.

"In his new post, Mr. Holland, who is 56 years old, will have responsibility for the direction of the firm's domestic operations," the New York Times wrote on Oct. 16, 1984.

By naming Mr. Holland as deputy chairman, Coopers & Lybrand had consolidated the responsibility of four vice chairmen into one job, the Times wrote. He retired in 1990.

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Mr. Holland graduated from Meyers High School in 1946. He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from King's College, a Catholic college in Wilkes-Barre, in 1952.

He served in the Army for two years between high school and college. "He wanted to enlist at 17, but his father wouldn't let him; he made him finish high school," Logan said. He served as a paratrooper in Japan.

Mr. Holland's interests and hobbies centered on golf; boating; and his second home in Stone Harbor, which had been in the family for more than 35 years.

He learned to grill from a friend and kept two large gas grills on his deck so he could cook a large number of outdoor meals simultaneously.

His first boat was a used 12-foot Boston Whaler, which he could not operate at first. Over the years, as his skill improved, he acquired bigger and bigger boats.

"His last boat was a 60-foot ocean fishing boat, which was too big for him; he had to hire a captain," said Logan.

Once he took his family for a cruise in one of his boats, and got stuck on the way out and on the way back - on the same sandbar. He had to wait for the tide to rise so the boat would float freely, Logan said. His family never let him forget it.

He was a longtime member of the Overbrook Golf Club in Villanova. Overbrook's clubhouse burned in January 1991, and Mr. Holland was in charge of rebuilding it - a project that cost several million dollars and took over a year.

Mr. Holland was a vociferous follower of the Eagles and Phillies. "Many a family meal was interrupted by Dad yelling at the TV, which always remained on while we were eating," Logan said.

When he turned 81, Mr. Holland and his grandchildren went to a Phils game; Logan arranged for his name to be flashed on the scoreboard. "He loved it. He was so excited," Logan said.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret; daughters Molly Doyle and Nancy H.; son John; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, Aug. 5, which would have been his 86th birthday.



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