The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is deeply saddened at the passing of Past President Richard S. (“Pete”) Hollis, a champion of women’s health care across multiple fronts, who died March 29. Dr. Hollis served ACOG in several capacities, including as president from 1993 to 1994, chair of District VII from 1988 to 1991, and chair of the Mississippi Section from 1979 to 1982. He is remembered by his ACOG colleagues as an outstanding physician, leader, mentor, teacher, advocate, and friend.
Through his career, Dr. Hollis delivered around 7,500 babies and performed 10,000 operations, primarily over decades of private practice in his home town of Amory, Mississippi. “Medicine is something I loved. I didn’t go to work. I enjoyed taking care of people,” he said in an interview for the ACOG Oral History Program in 2020. “The greatest blessing in the world is to be a physician.”
Dr. Hollis was a remarkably effective advocate for women’s health care, locally and nationally. Serving on the National Health Policy Council under President and Mrs. Clinton, he established obstetricians and gynecologists as primary care providers for women—a conceptual step that Dr. Hollis described as the most significant achievement of his ACOG presidency and one that helped establish the College’s influence on federal policy. He also served in the Presidential Forum on Domestic Policy under President Ford.
Dr. Hollis is remembered too for his outsize influence on medical education. As a clinical professor at the University of Mississippi, he taught ob-gyn residents for 15 years. The Pete and Weesie Hollis Educational Endowment Fund, established with his wife Eloise Cappel Hollis, recognizes a fellow or junior fellow from each district who has performed outstanding services. “Has there ever been a better representative of what great leadership can come out of Amory, Mississippi?” says James Nello Martin Jr., MD, FACOG, FRCOG, an ACOG past president. “District VII has for years recognized Hollis Fellows to come to district advisory council meetings to gain entry into ACOG activities, one of the many ways that Pete influenced OBGYNs within Mississippi and the other Sections within District VII to embrace the College. The Hollis Fund that he and Weesie created more than 20 years ago now has more than a half million dollars contributed to by grateful fellows, section and district officers. That fund continues to support the educational endeavors of the district, all in the Hollis name. His legacy is one for the ages.”
Dr. Hollis received numerous honors for his medical and humanitarian accomplishments. The Women’s Center at Gilmore Memorial Hospital in Amory, MS, was named for him in 2002. His distinctions include the Meritorious Service Award from the Tennessee Hospital Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Medical Class of 1952 by the Tulane Medical Alumni Association, Doctor of the Year from the American Association of Medical Assistants, MS Society, and a lifetime membership of United Methodist Women for “services to women and children, locally, nationally and internationally.”
Dr. Hollis received his BS from Mississippi State College and his MD from Tulane Medical School. He interned and was an ob-gyn resident in the Tulane Service at Charity Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana, and also served in the US Navy and Air Force. Subsequently he was in private practice in Tuscaloosa, AL, and in Amory, MS, where he co-founded the Physicians and Surgeons Clinic, winning accolades for its major impact on the community. Dr. Hollis is survived by his wife of 68 years, Eloise Cappel Hollis, three sons, and grandchildren.