Richard Hollis was a fighter – he had to be!
At age 19, he began his lifelong struggle with severe mental illness. You see, he was a member of a very unfortunate minority – those who are stricken with schizophrenia, which afflicts 1 of 100 people throughout the world.
Perhaps you have read about soldiers who have volunteered for military service and later suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome after being in combat. Well, talk about traumatic stress, Richard did not volunteer for combat but he had to fight battles against his inner demons every day for 50+ years.
And fight he did! Whether while attending the University of
Montana or later Illinois College from which he graduated with honors all the while hearing and being tormented by voices only he heard. I'm sure he was often made fun of by young students who couldn't begin to understand. He had to try so very, very hard each and every day.
Before becoming sick, he was a very good athlete and a little league teammate of his later said that Richard could throw a baseball thru a brick wall and was perhaps the best little league baseball player in Springfield when there were only some 12 teams in the whole city. He pitched for the Red Comets coached by his father H. B., which lost the city championship game to a team called the Mud Hens when he was 12. He later played baseball and some basketball for Springfield High. He was also considered a real leader by his friends then.
After college, he did menial jobs – such as being a window washer – just to survive and because his illness made it impossible to do the kind of work his education and innate abilities made him more than qualified to do. Richard was also a very nice guy and a very decent human being. I often told Richard that he was the best of us - Martha and Harold Hollis's five children. Richard had truly lived a quietly heroic life, never complaining or saying "why me?".
If there was the equivalent of The Congressional Medal of Honor for not a few minutes or a day of bravery in battle but for a lifetime of bravely and gracefully fighting against an unconquerable enemy, Richard had surely earned that honor.
Some people believe thru suffering we come closer to God. Richard Hollis's suffering is now over. If there is a God and Heaven - Richard Allen Hollis is there.
God Bless and Keep you Richard.
by Ken Hollis