Celebrating the Legacy of a Leader

It’s been said that the essence of a person is not what they do in their own life but what they do for others that has the greatest reward.

Former Lansing Mayor from 1993 to 2003, David Hollister’s life was celebrated on Monday, Aug. 14 on the plaza of Lansing City Hall in downtown Lansing, Mich. Many community members turned out to honor this Lansing leader for his lifetime of accomplishments as a public servant and to witness the unveiling of the newly renamed David C. Hollister City Hall.

Hollister will be remembered for recasting residents’ image of Lansing as a world-class city before many ever imagined it were possible. Some of Hollister’s more notable accomplishments include improving and expanding the Lansing Center, bringing minor league baseball to Lansing and starting the Common Ground music festival. He is probably most remembered for his work with General Motors, city and state officials in the 1990s to keep the automaker in the city and build two new plants.

“Mayors do not make decisions in hopes of having a building named after them. They make tough decisions day in and day out, in the hope that those decisions will best serve all the decisions and will stand the test of time,” said Mayor Bernero. “I asked that we name city hall after David Hollister because I believe after looking back from 1993 to now, it is clear to see the pivotal role that David Hollister’s leadership has played to stop Lansing’s decline and turn things around. Hollister’s impact has stood the test of time; delivering lasting positive impact for Lansing and its residents.”

Hollister grew up in Battle Creek, Mich. where he was an average student from a middle-class family. He didn’t have the benefit of both parents in his home, they were divorced; and he was the first one in his family to graduate from high school. He never allowed his past to dictate what was possible for him.

“I graduated in 1960 when Kennedy was president, he was my hero and my model as I grew into adulthood in the turbulent 1960s. In the spring of 1965 I was handed a flyer that Martin Luther King Jr. would be speaking at MSU. I attended that speech and sat in the balcony of the auditorium and met him as he came off the stage,” said Hollister. “I was so moved by his vision and his plan for nonviolence that I volunteered on the spot to teach in the Mississippi freedom school in Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss. That experience changed my life. I moved from being a traditional teacher to a community and political activist.”

After the assassination of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, Hollister was moved to get involved in changing a country that was falling short of its ideals and promises. He was persuaded by the words of Thomas Jefferson who said, “The best cure for an ailing democracy is more democracy.” Prior to becoming mayor, he served on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners and the Michigan House of Representatives. Hollister still lives in Lansing and continues to remain active in community affairs.

“I believe that each one of us can make a difference. I believe that even the small everyday acts of kindness, volunteerism, participation have enormous positive consequences. I believe the measure of one’s success is not the number of accomplishments one can list, but more importantly, the fidelity of one’s actions to one’s ideals,” said Hollister.

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