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Holloman Highway serves as special ‘gift’

AHOSKIE – It was the best birthday present Velma Holloman could wish for.

Tuesday afternoon, Holloman, who self-professed it was her 52nd birthday, proudly looked on as the North Carolina Department of Transportation named a portion of NC 561 between Ahoskie and St. John in honor of her late husband, North Carolina State Senator Robert L. Holloman.

“September 16 is a special day for me…it’s my birthday,” Mrs. Holloman told the crowd gathered at New Ahoskie Baptist Church where the dedication service was conducted. “But this particular day will always be etched in my heart.”

She was very appreciative of those who orchestrated the effort to have the road named in her husband’s honor, particularly thanking three state legislators seated in the audience – District 4 Senator Ed Jones (who was named to fill Sen. Holloman’s unexpired term), District 5 Representative Annie Mobley and District 27 Representative Michael Wray. She also thanked DOT officials Stan White, who served as emcee for the event, and Division I Engineer Jerry Jennings.

“I believe that a landmark should be left behind to mark his place here,” Mrs. Holloman noted. “I hope that sign will prompt other young boys and girls to give their best…to leave their mark on life.”

Formally introduced by Holloman’s grandson Keenen Evans, District 6B Judge Rob Lewis gave the keynote address, calling Robert Holloman “the little engine that could.”

“He did things in his life that many people thought he couldn’t accomplish…become a pastor, a county commissioner and a state senator,” Judge Lewis said. “He knew that through God all things were possible.”

Judge Lewis added that Senator Holloman was a catalyst for change.

“Some didn’t like his aggressive style, but that didn’t stop Robert Holloman,” the Judge said. “He knew he couldn’t please everyone, so he kept pushing and pushing for change.”

Lewis continued, “His political ambition was the same as his religious ambition, that of helping people. The two ran hand-in-hand.

Making reference back to his “little engine that could” statement, Judge Lewis concluded by saying, “As long as this highway is named for Robert Holloman, it inspires others to say ‘I know I can, I know I can’.”

Also making remarks at the ceremony were Hertford County Commissioner DuPont Davis and Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn.

“We had some differences when we served together as county commissioners, but Robert Holloman was a great commissioner and deserved to be a state senator,” Davis said. “He put his best into everything he did. He loved North Carolina, especially the people of his district.”

Mayor Blackburn said she knew Robert Holloman before he became a state senator.

“Our friendship grew over the years,” Blackburn said. “He was proud to be from Hertford County and to represent the people of his district. The dedication of this highway in his honor will forever remind those who live here and those that will come in the future of the love Senator Holloman had for this area.”

Also taking part in the ceremony were Cynthia White, a family friend, who sang the National Anthem; Nebo Baptist Church Deacon Jermaine Baughan, who gave the invocation; and the Hertford County High School JROTC who presented the colors.

Holloman, who also served as Pastor at Nebo Baptist, was first elected to the State Senate in 2002, serving the 4th District (Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton and Perquimans counties). He was reelected to a third term in November of 2006, but died in January of 2007 before being sworn-in.