In Memoriam: Hollis Samuel Liggett

(Reprinted from "The {Memphis} Commercial Appeal," June 10, 2011.)

Hollis Samuel Liggett, 87, died June 7, 2011. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Margaret Maris Liggett; five children, Fonya, Maris, Marjean, Nora and Zora Liggett; a daughter-in-law, Kristi Estes; and four grandchildren, Samuel, Benjamin, Margaret, and Katherine Liggett.

Born in Gibson County, Tenn., on July 20, 1923, he was the seventh of eight children of Arthur and Zora Liggett. He was blinded at the age of 5 after lighting a match to what he thought was a firecracker but instead was a dynamite cap. After graduating from the Tennessee School for the Blind in Nashville, he worked at a tent factory in Memphis during World War II, sending money home to his mother each week and saving enough of his wages to enroll at Lambuth College in Jackson, where he met his wife.

He graduated from Lambuth in 1949 with a bachelor's degree and went on to earn a master's of religious education from Duke University in 1950. After serving as pastor to five rural Methodist churches in Paris, Tenn. from 1951-52, he moved his wife to Memphis where, unable to find a post-war employer willing to hire a blind man, he worked for four years selling brooms and mops door-to-door to support his family. In 1956, he was selected to operate a concession stand at the Public Works Building in Memphis. He and his wife went on to own and operate a successful concession stand at John Gaston Hospital, followed by a vending machine business located at The Med.

He was the founding editor of "The Braille Free Press," a national publication for the blind, and in 2002 the American Council of the Blind presented him with an award for his work with that magazine. He was also one of the founding members and the first president of the Memphis Association of the Blind, where he worked tirelessly to promote and advocate employment and educational opportunities for his fellow blind and disabled citizens. The family will hold a private memorial service and requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made in his memory to the First Unitarian Church of the River, the Memphis Humane Society, or the charity of the donor's choice.