A philanthropic nature and devotion to Coe was instilled in Gary Holland '74 and Kathy Thompson Holland '74 long before they went on a blind date at an all-school roller skating party.
"It was modeled to me in my family to give back financially when we could," Kathy said.
Raised in a small farm town in northwest Illinois, Gary was intimidated by the size of Northern Illinois University, the only other college he visited before enrolling at Coe. His mother, Marilyn Martin Holland '50 attended Coe, which planted the seed for him to follow suit.
"I didn't really feel like I needed to look anywhere else," he said.
After growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Kathy visited Coe on the way home from a family trip. She liked Coe's size and her best friend, Linda Wolf Ergang '75, went to Coe, so she enrolled even though her dad got a job in Connecticut and moved the family 18 hours away.
Both economics majors, they developed a strong affection for Economics Professor Bill Spellman. Consequently, the Stead Department of Business Administration & Economics is a favored source of their philanthropy.
In addition to supporting their department, the Hollands are members of the Heritage Club, Coe's planned giving society. They have been regular supporters of numerous Coe campaigns, including Make Your Move - the Campaign for Eby and Hickok, as well as the Coe Fund.
"We are willing to give our money where it is needed most," Kathy said. "We trust the leadership to know what's best."
Their 43-year marriage grew out of a blind date arranged by Gary's Lambda Chi Alpha brothers and Kathy's Chi Omega sisters. The Coe roller skating party was uneventful, "except for the part where I crashed her into the side boards and wiped us both out on a turn," Gary said. Steady dating ensued and they were engaged as Kathy attended two summer sessions to make up the year difference between them at Coe.
"Two weeks after Kathy's summer graduation, we got married," Gary said.
Gary worked in customer service for Chicago-area industries while pursuing his MBA from Roosevelt University. Kathy "pinched pennies" as a stay-at-home mom to three children. Times were lean, but they still supported their alma mater.
"We're glad to be able to do it," Kathy said. "For years and years it was pretty low level, and it's been nice for a few years to be able to give back at a more significant level."