Senior Services recognizes local centenarian

Published 9:20 am Friday, January 25, 2013


VIRGINIA BEACH—Anyone pondering the secret of a long life would do well to ask 100-year-old Benjamin Jackson “BJ” Holland, a Suffolk resident honored by Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia Thursday.

“I was brought up in a Christian home and I was taught to obey the Bible. And I read the Bible every day,” Holland said after receiving the inaugural, discretionary Inspiration Award during SSSV’s 40th annual general meeting.

A surviving twin and one of seven children, Holland turned 100 on June 5 celebrating the occasion at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Franklin, where he participates in senior center activities.

Holland never misses a day visiting the center, where he likes to converse with friends and build on his Dominos skills.

“One of the first things he does when he comes to the center, he pulls out his Bible and he says a little scripture,” Franklin Director of Parks & Recreation Frank Davis said before Holland received the award at the Holiday Inn Executive Center.

“After that, he’s known to play a mean game of Dominos,” Davis said.

Holland attended the meeting with his niece, Shirley Holland Bailey.

“He’s such a good man; I can say that first,” Bailey said. “I lost my auntie, so if he didn’t go to the community center that would put him by himself. It gets him out of the house and keeps his mind active.”

Holland was a farmer most of his life, growing peanuts, cotton and corn, as well as raising livestock.

He lives on his own next door to his niece cooking and cleaning for himself.

When he was younger, Holland lived in Jersey City for a decade, but he was glad to return to the farm.

As for Dominos, he’s been playing for 90 years.

“I started when I was a little boy. I got it down pretty good,” Holland said.

Davis said he and Holland used to travel together as part of a group that visited seniors in their homes.

“We were out one day in Southampton County, in the country,” Davis said. “I managed somehow to get stuck in the mud. Mr. Holland said, ‘Don’t worry Mr. Davis, I’m going to get out and push the van.’”

Another time, Davis was in unfamiliar territory and relying on a GPS. Holland later asked, “Mr. Davis, tell me where was that woman at, giving you instructions? Was she in the front of the van? Was she in the back of the van?”

Holland said he was “shocked” to receive the Inspiration Award.

“It’s a feeling I have never felt before,” he said.