Randy J. Holland Celebration of Life: Governor John C. Carney, Jr. Remarks

Good afternoon, Ilona to you and the family, Reverend Baker, all distinguished members of our judiciary, friends of Randy Holland.

I’m certainly honored to be here today to pay tribute on behalf of the people of our great state to one of the state’s finest jurists and greatest thinkers. I must say, in light of that, I feel a little intimidated, as I mentioned to you on the phone Ilona, to speak in front of such distinguished lawyers and jurists, but I’ll do my best on behalf of the folks in our state.

We all know of Justice Holland’s role as premier legal historian. He was a dedicated chronicler of the founding documents and those who built the original architecture of our state. We also know that he loved to share his knowledge with others. Put together, everyone in this room could probably form the Justice Holland Law Library, with all the copies of his books he sent to us over the years.

Shortly after I was sworn in as lieutenant governor over 20 years ago now, my first time as an elected official, Justice Holland sent me a copy of the reference guide he wrote to the Delaware State Constitution. The book had recently been published, but somehow I thought it was Randy’s way of telling me that if I had taken this oath to uphold the state constitution, I better know and understand what it says.

As lieutenant governor, I never really had a reason to consult the book. But now, as governor, it sits on the side of my desk. I think Randy would be happy to know that his book has more than just academic value. It’s actually been useful for this governor.

Randy was one of the smartest people I think I’ve ever met. Though Ilona tells me that Randy would say, humble always, that he’s not even the smartest person in his family. That his brother is way smarter.

Recently, I saw Randy speak at the 50th anniversary of the Family Court. Many of you were there. I always found it fascinating to watch him speak. It felt like you could actually hear his mind thinking as he spoke. Each word is carefully chosen to deliver the message with the precision of an expert jurist.

Randy and I shared an interest in Delaware history, and especially in John Dickinson and his role as a Founding Father. And a few years ago, we took a field trip together to the Dickinson Plantation. It was great. It was a fascinating visit as Randy shared with us his knowledge of the colonial period.

I feel lucky to have spent that time with him, and I will miss those opportunities in the future. I know many of us today are feeling as I do, like we didn’t have enough time with Randy. It certainly feels like he had so much left to teach us all.

None could be feeling that more deeply than Randy’s wife and high school sweetheart, Ilona and his son Ethan, and the rest of the family. Ilona what a special, beautiful thing to have shared a half century of love and joy with the kind of soul as Randy. The hearts of so many Delawareans are with you and the family.

Two years ago, Justice Holland represented our state before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was, of course, defending Delaware’s constitution, the provisions that ensure we have a politically balanced judiciary. And I know from speaking to Ilona that Randy considered this a highlight of his career, a career with a long list of highlights. For me, having Randy Justice Holland in our corner was an honor. It also meant we won a unanimous decision.

In losing Randy we have lost both a gem and a giant. In a bench and bar full of talented writers and thinkers. Justice Randy Holland was in a class of his own. He combined a remarkable intellect with a nobility of spirit that made him the leading light of Delaware’s renowned legal community. He was the jewel in the crown of our judiciary.

And while there is no replacing Randy’s gentle smile or generous warmth, we’re blessed that so much of his wisdom is committed to writing and is now part of our state’s rich history he so diligently studied.

When Justice Holland retired, I presented him with Delaware’s highest honor. The Order of the First State. The order was presented to, and I quote, “bear witness to Justice Holland’s outstanding efforts, knowledge, integrity, prudence, and ability, as displayed by the evidence of his accomplishments and for his consistent dedication to serving his community and his state.” Close quote.

As President Biden would say on an occasion like this, “There will come a day when the thought of Randy will bring a smile to our face rather than a tear to our eyes.” I know I will take comfort and joy in being reminded of Randy and his legacy each time I open one of his books, and I will smile with a renewed commitment to our state and a gratitude for the incredible contributions made to her by Justice Randy Holland.

May God bless Ilona and the Holland family. May Randy rest in peace.

Governor John Carney took office as Delaware’s 74th Governor in January 2017 and began his second term Governor on January 19, 2021. Prior to becoming governor, Carney served three terms as Delaware’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Carney also served two terms as Delaware’s Lieutenant Governor. Under Governor Tom Carper, Carney served as Delaware’s Secretary of Finance and Deputy Chief of Staff. Before that, he was Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for New Castle County, and on the staff of then-Senator Joe Biden. He attended St. Mark’s High School and led the school’s football team to its first state championship in 1973. After graduating high school, Governor Carney attended Dartmouth College, where he continued his football career and earned All-Ivy League and Most Valuable Player honors. When John returned to Delaware, he coached Freshmen Football on the staff of UD Head Coach Tubby Raymond while earning a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of Delaware.

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