Melvin G. “Mel” Holli, 1933-2016
Professor of History Emeritus and former chair of the department Melvin G. "Mel" Holli passed away on January 7, 2016. Holli was a founding member of the Department of History at what was then known as the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. An expert on urban history, particularly that of Detroit and Chicago, he had a strong interest in the history of mayoralty and of immigration to the United States.
Mel Holli was born Feb 22, 1933 in Ishpeming, Michigan, where he grew up. He completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan in 1965 and took a position as assistant professor at UICC that fall. He was the advisor to several generations of urban and Chicago historians and author or co-author of 18 books and edited volumes. Some of his former students counted among these co-authors and co-editors, and several of his books are still in print. Holli had formal training as an archivist and throughout his career collected manuscripts and historical documents related to the urban and immigration history of Chicago. Many of these documents, including the the speeches of Richard J. Daley and letters of Jane Addams, now form part of the library's Special Collections Department. He served as chair from 1991 to 1994 and retired in 2003.
He is survived by his wife, Dr. Betsy B. Holli, his son Steven Holli, and his daughter Susan Swinford, to whom we extend our sincere condolences.
Holli's family asks that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be directed to to the Alzheimer's Association or to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, which is located in Ishpeming. Those of you who have been around long enough may recall a yellowed newspaper photo of a ski jumper taped to the door of his office... yes, that was a picture of him flying through the air.