Our Founder

William J. Holston
1930-2011

William J. “Bill” Holston was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on January 15, 1930. Young “Billy Joe” had an adventurous childhood on the James River where he discovered his lifelong passion for music and mischief. He attended Lynchburg College and excelled in music and sports. He then joined the U.S. Navy where he traveled the world playing trumpet in an elite USN band onboard the USS Midway.

Bill met the love of his life, Beatrice McGlasson, while living in Washington, D.C. and they married and relocated to New York where he continued his music education at NYU. A perpetual student, Bill earned a Masters in Arts from Florida State University, and in 1955 was recruited as Band Director for Pensacola High School. The Holstons moved to Pensacola where Bill taught band and humanities for 12 years and raised their three daughters. Bill was a composer, musician, and teacher; and, under his inspired direction, the PHS Fighting Tiger Band was the only high school from the State of Florida invited to march at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.

Bill earned a Masters in Public Administration in 1967, after which he was chosen as principal of Wedgewood Middle and Woodham High Schools in Escambia County. Mr. Holston or “Captain” as he is called by his students, was known for his sparkling wit and interactive teaching style, replete with lessons from history and literature. Love of the sea and seafaring adventures became a trademark theme for this Captain of Creativity.

In 1969, Bill and Bea Holston embarked on a unique educational voyage as they founded and nurtured the Pensacola School of Liberal Arts. Since that time, the school has enabled thousands of young people to develop their individual and intellectual potential in a personal atmosphere of value, challenge, and inspiration. Together, Bill and Bea were educational advocates, humanitarians and leaders who helped young people and their parents aspire, achieve and advance.

Mr. Holston lived an extraordinary life focused on inspiring the young and old alike to reach for their wildest hopes and dreams while keeping their feet firmly planted. He was a valued counselor and mentor to his friends, neighbors, students and their families. He will forever be remembered as a teacher, visionary, philosopher and great man who truly made a difference in the world.