Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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November 30, 2013

Happily ever after

Local couple celebrates 60 years of wedded bliss

Athens — It’s rare these days to see a marriage that lasts. It’s estimated that 1-in-every-3 marriages in the United States will end in divorce, usually within the first five years. So when you hear of couples that have been married for 40, 50, and even 60 years it’s a rarity.

That’s the case with Judge Jack Holland and his wife, Jean. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on the 26th of November.

Both from Athens, Jack and Jean met, like so many other young loves, in their school days.

“I didn’t really hang out with him much when we were younger, but we went out on our first date in our senior year,” recalls Jean. “And since none of us kids had much money, dates consisted of driving around the square about 18 times and then going out to West Court’s Cafe for a Coke.”

The couple shared a funny story regarding a friend who got their wedding date confused and thought their rehearsal was the actual ceremony. “My father followed Jack up the aisle with his shotgun and we were having a good ‘ole time laughing and being silly.“ Jean said. “Of course we cleared things up afterwards, but our friend thought it was the wildest wedding he’d ever been to!”

The Holland’s were married at the First Methodist Church and spent their honeymoon in San Antonio. With Jean at his side, Jack went on to law school and eventually made it back to Athens, where he was appointed as the judge of the newly created 173rd District by Governor Preston Smith in 1969.

“The next year I actually had to run for office, and we had never done anything like that.” Jack said.  “Jean would load up her friends and go knocking on doors. I would get to Crockett, which is a part of the 173rd district, and they would tell me, ‘We’ve already talked with your wife, judge. She’s already been campaigning down here.’”

Jean said, “I was his campaign manager basically!” as she laughs.

Holland held his office for 36 years, retiring in 2005 with a record as not only the longest-standing judge in Henderson County history, but one of the longest in Texas history as well.

Judge Holland still practices law out of his office on the Athens Square, and is the city judge for the town of Gun Barrel City.

Four years ago, Jean was diagnosed with cancer and Jack has been at her side through it all. Along with their son, Joe, the Holland family has faced her cancer diagnosis head on. When commenting on his mother’s tenacity with battling cancer, Joe said, “Oh, she used to have red hair. She’s brave and feisty! She’s not going down without a fight.”

When asked for advice on making marriages last, Jack said, “Keep a thick skin,” he laughs as Jean swats at him. “No, really... Don’t let little things bother you. Focus on the good things and let anything else go. Don’t make big things out of little things. Be understanding.”

Jack and Jean have never been closer, still approaching each new day, and each new challenge, with laughter and love.

Read Chalisa’s other articles at

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