Milwaukee's first African American county executive and board chair dies

Lee Holloway was 71.
Posted at 6:29 PM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 19:29:04-04

Milwaukee's first African-American county executive and board chair, Lee Holloway, has died. He was 71 years old.

Those who served beside Holloway told TODAY'S TMJ4 they're shocked and saddened by his sudden passing. Holloway was a leader in Milwaukee County for two decades, now remembered as a man with a big voice and a heart for service.

"He would stand up and not be turned," said Sen. Lena Taylor.

Taylor said Holloway showed her the importance of speaking up and speaking out.

"Truly we have lost a warrior, a fighter," she said. "He was someone who seriously did the work of the people."

Elizabeth Coggs served beside Holloway on the Milwaukee County Board, but they met decades before when he was her high school guidance counselor.

"He gave me a hard time when I was in high school but it was for the better good," she said.

During Holloway's tenure in Milwaukee County leadership, he paved the way for the disadvantaged to receive healthcare that later expanded statewide now known as Badger Care.

Coggs reminisced on memories of Holloway's often fierce personality as he stood for what she calls 'have-nots' in the community.

"Those that need a place to live, to sleep, to eat and to have healthcare," Coggs said.

"Lee Holloway is the reason why we're now able to keep Milwaukee County juveniles in Milwaukee County instead of sending all of them to Ethan Allen," said Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy West.

Despite all the accomplishments, Holloway was dragged down by recurring problems with his rental properties and an accusation of sexual harassment that tarnished an otherwise legendary career.

Holloway is survived by his wife and two sons.