Hollis the ‘Goat’ in nickname, legacy in Brantley, beyond

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

James Hubert “Goat” Hollis Jr., a Brantley native and former Brantley Bank President, passed away Nov. 28.
Born in Brantley on Sept. 1, 1931, Hollis Jr., known to most as Goat, was the son of James Hubert Hollis Sr. and Winnie Turner Hollis. He was the great-great-grandson of Joel Lafayette Nichols Sr. (1831–1901) and Susannah Elizabeth Wellmaker Nichols (1834–1897), some of the very first pioneers to settle the area, in what is now known as the Springhill community.

Much like his great-great grandparents, Goat lived his life as a pioneer of a different variety, facilitating advancements in the banking industry, earning his way to the position of Brantley Bank President, and giving back to the hometown he loved.

His tenacity and conviction, other unique positive qualities, and love for all of humanity served him and anyone he came into contact with, very well.

Often referred to by many as a banking guru, Goat and his forward thinking throughout his career left a mark in Alabama’s banking industry. His concern with preparing a better environment and future for his family and for everyone he crossed paths with, whether an associate through the bank, a good friend, husband, father, or grandaddy, showed the nature of his character.

Close friend, bird-hunting partner, and fellow banker, Paul W. Bryant, Jr., said Goat led a great example as a banker and was well-known, respected, appreciated, and enjoyed by bankers from all over the state, bankers that always looked forward to fellowshiping with Goat and learning from him at conventions, regulation meetings, and through various committees.

Goat’s legacy included many accolades and accomplishments, but according to Bryant, his personality, natural and pure charm, sense of humor, ability to always look at the bright side, pure desire to help others, amazing story telling, and authentic and strong desire to help others far preceded his reputation beyond any formal distinctions.

“Although I know there are many, I am not familiar with the details of the positive changes Mr. Hollis made in the banking industry.” Bryant said. “However, it is clear to see that he took the good things he learned from his parents, and past generations, and showed so many how we can enjoy the more simple things like being out in nature, and helping others- like his pioneer ancestors did.”

Goat was known for many things, including his love of the outdoors; bird hunting, and bird dogs, but his love for his wife Peggy, the Brantley Methodist Church, and Alabama Football, (in no particular order as Goat might say), superseded the rest. He was proud of his roots and his family. He was proud of his community, his bank employees that were also family, his hometown, and his Brantley Bulldogs.

He will be missed by many, including his daughter Betsy Hollis Walker, who said what she will miss most about her father is his presence, and knowing her Daddy is there with unabiding love for her, the rest of the family, and the community.

“Daddy had a deep, abiding, and unbiased love for Brantley and all the people there,” Walker said. “He was just bigger than life. He was bigger than life to me, because he was bigger than life to so many people. The only thing he loved more than bird hunting was helping others.”