Steve Holland, a Tupelo-area representative, revealed on the House floor Friday morning that his doctors recently diagnosed him with dementia.
Dementia is commonly associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills that can diminish a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.
Holland, who has served in the House for 34 years, made the announcement in a unusually silent and attentive chamber. Holland, 61, has been sick in recent years, including several hospitalizations. He said physicians at University of Mississippi Medical Center gave him the news last week.
Holland, who has said he plans to retire at the end of the current term, in 2020, says he feels fine, but his doctors have told him to ready his affairs for a time when his cognitive ability will be diminished.
Until that time, Holland said. “I will attack life with the gusto of a hound dog.”
Holland is one of the most colorful, passionate and provocative members of the Legislature, known for his grand oratory and sharp sense of humor. When Democrats controlled the House of Representatives he served as chairman of the Public Health and Agriculture committees.
“As a professional Southern undertaker, I have looked death in the face for over 40 years now,” Holland said in prepared remarks. “I have no fear of the end game, and I expectantly look forward to the fulfillment of the promises of my faith and spirituality.”
Following the speech, Speaker Philip Gunn led the House in a prayer in which he thanked Holland for his service.