Mr. Walter Holland Reflects on His Son’s Success
By Nicholas Pircio
Has it really been twenty years? Back in April of 1992, seventh grader Walter Holland III of Ellicottville spelled the word “virulent” correctly to become the Western New York spelling champion. The following month, Walter advanced to Washington D-C to take part in the National Spelling Bee, where he finished among the top ten. The occasion marks one of the many of young Walter’s many achievements noted in local media in the years to follow, including a return to the National Spelling Bee in 1993.
His father, Walter Holland, has lived in Ellicottville for 21 years. He remembers fondly the accomplishments of both his sons, Walter and Philippe. He recalls, “I remember the first year, in 1992, when the parade turned out. And they made it quite an occasion.” Moving ahead to 2011, Mr. Holland happened to be visiting a Buffalo hospital. He picked up a copy of the Buffalo News in the cafeteria and saw an article about the Buffalo spelling bee. “It mentioned my son’s name, because a young person had done quite well last year from this locality. It (the article) said the last person to achieve this was Wally Holland.”
Mr. Holland went on to say that he read this article and saw his son’s name, “Right out of the blue!” He grew excited, and wanted to discuss it straight away with everyone. “I think it’s a normal human feeling. And when I read that to myself, wow! They’re talking about my son. It was quite surprising.” Young Wally went on to enter M-I-T, married, and now lives with his wife in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mr. Holland keeps plenty of memorabilia on hand from the spelling bee days, carefully laminated and preserved. Of his son’s accomplishments, “He earned it. And in my opinion, he’s very gifted. And you’ve got to have a bit of luck as well. Living in Ellicottville, any acclaim we can get for some of these small places is nice.” Mr. Holland feels the same way about the sports programs at Ellicottville Central School where, “The two soccer coaches have done a wonderful job. It’s nice to see them get the acclaim.”
He’s also optimistic about the town’s future. “I think it’s going to develop more, especially with the way Holiday Valley is looking to the future.”