Bill and Dianne Hollingshead photo outdoors
Bill and Dianne Hollingshead at a UC Davis function.

‘Aggie for Life’ Bill Hollingshead Will Be Missed

A self-described “Aggie for life,” alumnus Bill Hollingshead (B.A., political science, ’60) died in early February. Hollingshead and his wife, Dianne, were longtime donors to UC Davis and devoted patrons of the Department of Music. He was well-known for his enthusiastic love of his alma mater. In 2012, he received the Aggie Service Award from the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, which honors alumni who demonstrate exemplary Aggie pride and commitment of time, energy, volunteerism and leadership to UC Davis.

“I got a tremendous education at UC Davis, in education, social life and business,” Hollingshead said in a 2012 interview


Bill Hollingshead is interviewed in conjunction with receiving the 2012 Aggie Service Award.


A clarinet player, Hollingshead studied with founding music department faculty member Jerome Rosen. Drafted into the U.S. Army, he performed in the Continental Army Command Band. After graduating, he worked as a touring musician, magician, talent agent and amusement park entertainment director, mostly in Southern California.

As a talent agent, he specialized in presenting oldies artists and especially California surf music, including Jan and Dean and the Chantays. A video made in conjunction with the Aggie Service Awards features photos of Hollingshead with music giants Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis.

He moved back to Davis in 2003 where he became active at UC Davis as a supporter, patron and member of the Alumni Band and Concert Band. He reconnected with his high school sweetheart Dianne (B.A., psychology, ’63) and they married in 2004. Together they have been significant supporters of the music department, and the Harpsichord Teaching Studio in the Ann E. Pitzer Center is named in their honor.

“We’ve missed Bill greatly for the past few quarters and are so saddened by his passing,” said Pete Nowlen, director of the Concert Band. “His smile always illuminated the room, a witty remark was a frequent joy in rehearsal, and his dedication to and support of his section, the band, the department and the university are greatly admired. When we resume rehearsals, there will be a hole in the clarinet section, and in the heart of the band.”

Bill Hollingshead performing at Pajamarino  around 1959.
Bill Hollingshead, left, plays clarinet at the UC Davis Pajamarino in 1958.  

The Hollingsheads travelled with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra to Spain in a 2012 concert series tour.

In recent years, Hollingshead was a tireless promoter of his father’s photographs. Paul W. Hollingshead studied at the New York Institute of Photography, worked for famed photographer Edward Steichen, and shot fashion and movie star photos for Vogue and Vanity Fair before returning to California where he ran a Woodland photo studio from 1932 to 1969. Many of his photos have been in exhibitions at the UC Davis Design Museum and the UC Davis Alumni Center. In 2011, Hollingshead created a presentation of his father’s photos to accompany the Concert Band’s performance of William Schuman’s George Washington Bridge.

In partnership with Rotary International Foundation’s PolioPlus program and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Hollingsheads also helped raise money for polio immunization. He received a Rotary International Foundation Award and was named the Capital Region’s American Red Cross Hero of the Year.

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the College of Letters and Science

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