Note: Auburn Magazine ran a feature on retired Headland pharmacist William “Doc” Holley in its Summer 2010 issue.
It will be 38 years before George Petrie pens the Auburn Creed and more than 50 years before Alabama Polytechnic Institute is officially renamed Auburn University. Nevertheless, in 1907, in the small south Alabama town of Samson, an Auburn man was born.
William Howard “Doc” Holley ’29 celebrated his 105th birthday on Feb. 1 surrounded by family, friends and a lot of orange and blue. Auburn shirts, hats, decorations and even the cake served as a reminder that not only is Auburn a part of this family’s history, this family, one generation at a time, is part of Auburn’s history.
Eighty-six years after Holley first stepped foot on campus, his great-grandson Daniel Caneer will graduate from Auburn. Holley’s great-granddaughter, Hallie Caneer, will graduate a few years after that. And the legacy continues.
But, this month, we eat cake and celebrate Auburn’s “oldest living alumnus.” Daniel Caneer was unable to attend the party but wrote his great-grandfather the following letter:
Dear Granddad Holley,
I’ve learned a great deal in my time at Auburn, but one of the most valuable things I have gained is an attitude of hard work. In this, you are one of the best examples a young man can have. In conversation I frequently tell others about the things you have done in your lifetime; I am proud to call you my great-grandfather. When I tell others about you, they are amazed by the things you have done.
A few years after you left Auburn, the first football coach, George Petrie, wrote the Auburn Creed. It says:
“I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.
I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.
I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.
I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.
I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.
I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.
I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by “doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.”
And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.
Granddad Holley, you are an Auburn man. I wish you a wonderful birthday and I hope to see you soon.
Your great-grandson, Daniel Caneer