Holley named to AISA Hall of Fame

Published 11:52 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Retired Marengo Academy headmaster John Holley is one of 14 individuals to be inducted into the Alabama Independent School Association Hall of Fame’s Class of 2009.

“It’s a great thing,” former MA board member Coleman Carlton said. “It’s really something. It’s really an honor.”

“It’s a pretty big honor,” agreed John Paine Thomas, a former board member and long-time friend of Holley. “Some pretty well-known people went in this time.”

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Holley, who began working with Marengo Academy when it opened in 1969, spent 34 years at work in the AISA.

Included among his career highlights were two tenures totaling 31 years at Marengo Academy. Those stays were sandwiched around a brief period spent as the headmaster of the now-defunct West Alabama Prep.

“He was really loved by the kids,” Thomas said of Holley, a 1956 graduate of Tuscaloosa County High. “He always came into work at seven every morning. A lot of the kids would show up early just to get to talk to him.”

Holley’s final tenure with the school at which he spent more than three decades came to a close in March when he formally left the institution and entered retirement.

“He had super working relationships with the teachers,” Thomas said. “He was always concerned about the teachers. And he had a great working relationship with the board.”

According to Thomas, Holley’s commitment to the students of Marengo Academy was matched by his dedication to the school itself.

“He was very dedicated to the school,” Thomas said. “Marengo became a blue ribbon school under his watch. He very rarely ever missed a day from school. He missed a few days in his first tenure and not even one day in his second.”

Holley’s wife, Pat, also taught at Marengo Academy for 36 years. The couple saw all three of their children graduate from the institution.

Holley will attend induction ceremonies on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at a black-tie event to be hosted at the Embassy Suites ballroom in Montgomery.

He will be inducted alongside other AISA dignitaries, including chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Sue Bell Cobb, who graduated from Sparta Academy in 1974.

Holley’s peers will also include Patrician Academy coaching great Duane Johnson, who led six teams to state titles. Great Southern Wood chief executive officer James Rane, a 1964 graduate of Marion Military Institute, will also be inducted. David Woods, co-founder of Southern Academy, will be posthumously inducted.

Holley was out of town and could not be reached for comment.