Raymond 'Sonny' Hollis
Raymond Rodger Callaway Hollis—known as “Sonny” to his family and friends—passed away on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Houston, TX.
Sonny was born on September 21, 1935 in Crockett, TX to Lucille and Sidney “Bitsy” Hollis during the great depression. The family didn’t have much money, but names were free, so his parents gave him four of them. Sonny lost his father in a car accident when Sonny was 5 years old. His mother then moved the family to Lamesa, where she met and married Sonny’s step-father R.W. Herndon.
Sonny graduated from Abilene Christian College in 1957 and promptly joined the National Guard. He found his passion for education as a history teacher. He would later earn his Master’s degree at Texas Tech University. He taught at Klondike High School, and he later served as a principal and assistant principal at Lamesa High School. He served Westbrook ISD for many years in the roles of principal, superintendent, and school spirit leader extraordinaire. One of his proudest accomplishments was winning a legal battle in the Texas Supreme Court against the Texas Robin Hood school-finance plan. In honor of the profound impact Sonny had on the community of Westbrook and his many decades of service, Westbrook ISD built a new gymnasium and named it after Sonny.
Despite his devotion to his school and community, he found the greatest sense of purpose in his family. He married Alvah Ruth (Brown) Hollis on August 1, 1960. He was a beloved husband, companion, and caregiver to her for over 50 years until her death in 2012. Following Alvah Ruth’s death, he married former Westbrook ISD teacher Margaret Ann Conaway-Hollis and moved with her to Houston. Sonny raised one daughter, Ann (Hollis) Ward, who was his pride and joy. He was the world’s best grandfather to his grandchildren, April and Crystal.
Everyone who knew him loved him, except perhaps his school-finance legal adversaries. And if you knew him, he probably called you “kiddo kiddo.”
Sonny will be remembered for his unshakeable faith in God, his perpetual optimism, and the perseverance he showed through life’s many challenges. His was a life well lived and a race well run.
He was preceded in death by mother Lucille Herndon, father Sidney “Bitsy” Hollis; sister Y’Vonne “Bunny” Hollis; wife Alvah Ruth (Brown) Hollis; and wife Margaret Ann Conaway-Hollis.
He is survived by daughter Ann (Hollis) Ward and her husband David; granddaughters Justice April (Ward) Farris and husband Ben; Crystal (Ward) Geigel and husband Scott; and great-grandchildren Clara Farris, Owen Farris, and Colin Geigel.
He is also survived by Margaret Ann’s descendants, who embraced him and loved him as their own. They are her son Greg Conaway and wife Debbie, along with their children Zac, Morgan and Will; and her son Jeff Conaway and wife Angela, and their children Taylor and Kolby.
Services will be held on Saturday, May 8th at 10:30am at Nalley-Pickle & Welch Rosewood Chapel in Big Spring, TX. Graveside services will be at 2:00pm at the Dawson Country Cemetery in Lamesa, TX.
Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home and Crematory. Online condolences can be made at www.npwelch.com
– Press-Reporter obituary services