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Jeanne (Schofield) Holland, who raised five children before embarking on a lengthy career in management with the New England Telephone Company (now Verizon), died Sunday at Sunrise of Braintree, her home of almost seven years. She was 91.
Raised in Abington, Mrs. Holland was the eldest of five children. After graduating from Abington High School in 1944, she attended the Academie Moderne in Boston and enjoyed a career with the Hart Model Agency prior to getting married. More than 40 years later, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Lesley College at age 62.
Mrs. Holland moved to Rockland after marrying Joseph J. Holland Jr. of Weymouth in 1949 when he returned from his world travels as an engineer with the Merchant Marines. The couple met on a blind date, and remained committed to each other until Mr. Holland died in 2007.
While raising her family, Mrs. Holland was active in Rockland's Conservation Commission and Trinity Episcopal Church, as well as the Toastmistress organization, where she won a prestigious competition for her public speaking skills.
Mrs. Holland was well-known for her other speaking skills, too. Wherever she went, she made friends by talking to anyone who responded to her curiosity, empathy, and optimism. These traits lasted throughout her decline from Alzheimer’s, as evidenced by the outpouring of love and compassion from staff and administrators at Sunrise of Braintree during Mrs. Holland’s last days.
After raising her five children, Mrs. Holland worked for the New England Telephone Company as a manager in real estate operations. When she retired in 1990, she won an award for 22 years of perfect attendance. She was able to do this while taking night classes and in 1989, Mrs. Holland received her bachelor’s degree from Lesley College.
In the late 1980s, Mr. and Mrs. Holland bought a dilapidated farm house on 5 acres of oceanfront property near Digby, Nova Scotia, and then used their combined vision, talents, and labor to transform it into a family getaway that became the scene of countless memories. The property became the Hollands’ pride, with every inch of the house and newly-built barn showing Mr. Holland’s craftsmanship and his wife’s taste in decor, which was defined by the antiques and yard sale finds she collected.
Back in Rockland, Mrs. Holland’s 18th century home was filled with thousands of books — all of which she read — that she organized via the Dewey Decimal System. She loved learning about most anything, but was especially fond of her Scottish heritage. She had three Scottish terrier dogs throughout her life: Scottie Laddie, Campbell, and finally, Duchess of Argyll, or “Duchie” for short. Two of the dogs’ names pay homage to the Campbell clan of which Mrs. Holland is a descendant.
Mrs. Holland also had several creative pursuits throughout her life. She took painting lessons as a young mother and braided rugs from scrap clothing to help cover her home’s hardwood floors. While relaxing at night, she knit pair after pair of mittens to donate to the Trinity Episcopal Church. In retirement, she took up rug hooking, often taking road trips with a group of other women who shared a love for the craft.
She is predeceased by her son, Neil, who died as an infant. She leaves two sons, Jeffrey Holland and his wife Karen of Marshfield, and Joseph J. Holland III and his wife Arlette of Abington; three daughters, Diane Murphy and her husband Richard of Hanover, Jane Barta and her husband Fred of Quincy, and Melissa Damon and her husband Edward of Rockland; 13 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. She is survived by many nieces and nephews. In addition, she leaves her second family, the staff of Sunrise of Braintree who, for six and a half years, showed Mrs. Holland the utmost love, compassion, and exemplary care.
Mrs. Holland was predeceased by her sister, Gwendolyn Walsh, and three brothers, John Schofield, Roger Schofield, and Paul Schofield.
Arrangements are with Quealy & Son Funeral Home in Abington. Visiting hours are Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The service will be Friday at 11 a.m. and Mrs. Holland will be buried next to her husband at Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Abington.