Sister Holland receives public service award from BYU Management Society in St. George

ST. GEORGE, Utah — As the English poet John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island,” Sister Patricia Terry Holland said after accepting the Dixie Heritage Distinguished Public Service Award from the Brigham Young University Management Society on Friday, Nov. 5. 

“And I would quickly say, ‘No woman either, nor any child,’” she added. “We all face this mortal task together, and we can’t withdraw into a cocoon or a monastery, believing someone else can take care of life’s problems while we hide out in a closet somewhere. …

“We owe the next generation something like what our forefathers and mothers gave us, so we leave for them some evidence of our public service, something we did not for ourselves but did for them.”

Accompanied by her husband, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Sister Holland was the keynote speaker during the St. George Chapter of BYU Management Society Scholarship Banquet.

Elder and Sister Holland were born just 35 miles apart in southern Utah and call the red rocks of St. George “home.” They were high school sweethearts and married in the St. George Temple. Elder Holland served as president of BYU from 1980 to 1989. “BYU is an institution that means everything to my husband and me and our family,” Sister Holland said. 

The daughter of a long line of pioneers who settled in the first communities of Washington County, Sister Holland expressed gratitude for their vision and industry and her Dixie heritage. She acknowledged her brothers and sister and their spouses among the 180 guests in the audience. 

A personal introduction

While publicity material for the event noted some of Sister Holland’s many public accomplishments, Elder Holland noted three personal things about her in his introduction. 

First, “Pat is perhaps the most sensitive and finely tuned person toward the feelings of another that I have ever known. … When she listens to someone, she listens with her entire being,” he said. In religious terms, she lives “close to the Spirit.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives an introduction for his wife, Sister Patricia Terry Holland, at the 2021 BYU Management Society Scholarship Banquet Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in St. George, Utah.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives an introduction for his wife, Sister Patricia Terry Holland, at the 2021 BYU Management Society Scholarship Banquet Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in St. George, Utah. Credit: Nick Adams, for the Church News

Second, she is honestly and innately modest about her qualities and accomplishments. “Her children and grandchildren are the jewels in her crown.” 

And third, “She has been my strength, my inspiration, my guiding light and my caregiver now in every way for 58 years, four months and five days — but who is counting?

“I am counting because to stand at her side for each of those days has been the greatest privilege of my life,” Elder Holland said. “I count myself as the most fortunate of men. As Mark Twain’s Adam says of his Eve, so say I of Pat — ‘Wherever she was, there was paradise.’”

Born in 1942 in rural Enterprise, Utah, Sister Holland has long been active in community service. She is a former member of the Young Women general presidency and served on the board of directors of Deseret Book Co., ZCMI and Primary Children’s Medical Center. 

At the time of her service as BYU’s “first lady,” she received the BYU Exemplary Womanhood Award. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from LDS Business College (now Ensign College) and a member of the Dixie State University Hall of Fame. 

Sister Holland is a lifelong lover of music with specialized training in voice and piano, including study under a member of the faculty from the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She and Elder Holland have three children, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Sister Patricia Terry Holland, left, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, embrace and kiss after Elder Holland's introduction of Sister Holland at the 2021 BYU Management Society Scholarship Banquet Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in St. George, Utah.
Sister Patricia Terry Holland, left, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, embrace and kiss after Elder Holland’s introduction of Sister Holland at the 2021 BYU Management Society Scholarship Banquet Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in St. George, Utah. Credit: Nick Adams, for the Church News

Rowing together

In her keynote address, Sister Holland underscored the need for community service and care for one another — especially in today’s divisive world of declining moral values. 

The Savior’s counsel to “Love one another as I have loved you,” she said, “needs to govern everything we talk about in politics or economics or education or even football.”

Sister Holland pointed out that although living standards have never been higher and “we have every reason to be happy,” there are signs that for some this is not the case. 

Death rates from drug overdose are almost four times higher in the United States than in any other wealthy nation, and alcoholism is killing more people and especially more young people, she noted. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 70% of young Americans ages 13-17 say anxiety and depression are serious issues among their peers. 

Quoting Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of England, whom Elder Holland sought to befriend before his death last year, Sister Holland said: “To the extent that we belong to the same … community, we can work together without constantly being on guard against violence, betrayal, exploitation or deception. The stronger the bonds of community, the more powerful force of trust, and the more we can achieve together.”

“A lot of forces keep us from having the close sense of community,” Sister Holland said, “but we must strive earnestly to overcome them. …

“For any social institution to exist, we must be prepared to make sacrifices for others. That is true in our marriages, in our parenthood, in our membership in a community or our citizenship in a nation.”

Sister Holland concluded with a joke Rabbi Sacks once told. One year a university rowing team lost all of its races. To find out what they were doing wrong, they sent an observer to watch Harvard University’s successful rowing team in action. Three days later the observer came back shellshocked. 

“You won’t believe it,” he said. “You know what we do? They do the exact opposite. They have eight people rowing and only one person shouting instructions.”

Sister Holland added: “I am honored to be with you tonight, and I am honored to row in your boat. If we continue to all pull together, listen more and shout less, love more and demean less, we can face the future with great optimism and confidence. 

“It is easier to pull into the future without fear when we know we are not rowing alone.”