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IT’S ABOUT FAMILY, COMMUNITY, AND SERVICE/Nathaniel “Peaches” Holyfield has worn many hats while helping make a tighter and better community

By Scott Jester, 06/6/22 2:53 AM

Nathaniel Holyfield Jr. is about family. Nathanie Holyfield Jr. is about community. And, by continually serving others, he lives his life each day striving to make each better.

In his own way, in his own style, he wears many hats in hometown. Holyfield serves the city as the Sanitation Superintendent, as Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman, church deacon, athletic booster club president, and even has a long-running career as a basketball referee.

He also heads a wonderful family with his wife Kimetria by his side while remaining a dedicated son from a very well-known branch of the Holyfield family tree.

It’s from that branch that Holyfield established his future foundation. Born in Hope in 1964, he is the son of Nethaniel and Mary Holyfield and was blessed to grow up with three brothers and three sisters.

The oldest is Darrell, followed by sister Stacy (Monk), who passed away several years ago from cancer, then Nathaniel in the middle, with younger brother Reggie Sr., sister Teresa, and rounding out the family is youngest daughter Mary (Stuckey).

That’s a total of seven kids. In theory, that’s five starters for a basketball team plus two substitutes. What a family.

Many know Holyfield by his nickname “Peaches”. Anyone who knows him, calls him by that moniker. It fits him perfectly somehow from his cherubic face which is always complimented by a broad smile.

The name was given to him early in life by a close friend of the family because he was so “sweet”.
And, she’s been right all these years. “Peaches” fits him like a hand in a glove.

“Mom and Dad showed us nothing but love,” remarked Holyfield from behind his desk at Hope’s Public Works building recently. “It’s one thing that we can look back and say they took care of us and provided for us when times were tough.

“As I look back over my life, I have to give all the credit to the good Lord, but I also feel that my dad set a good example for us. Every day I think about my dad and I’m just trying to fulfill the dream he had for us.

Holyfield presents another living testimony to the value of not only having a mother in the house, but the important influence that a responsible dad can have on the outcome of their children’s lives. It just works better.

Peaches’ father was a well-known figure in the community, many times by several nicknames, but he exuded the same broad smile as his namesake, and always had an open door or an arm around the shoulder of the many Hope High ball players.

“My Dad was a very big influence on me,” Holyfield stressed. “Back in the day, he used to coach young kids from (then) Yerger High School and they would come back after they grew up and visit him again.

“Most folks will remember that my Dad gave the youth of this community something to do,” he recalls.

“He even held dances and get-togethers for the kids at a place called the “Sugar Shack”. You name it, he did it. He was very community-minded.”

This writer remembers well as a Hope high school football player in the late ‘70’s and early 80’s being personally invited by the elder Holyfield to come and hang out there, to dance and enjoy the friendship of others after the home games.

No stipulations, no boundaries. Color mattered nothing to him, nothing but having a good team and a good time together. That is what Peaches’ dad stood for.

“I’m just trying to carry on his legacy. We were ALL one big family back then. I just wish we could go back to those times.” Holyfield concludes.

His dad would burst with pride today as his legacy continues.

Holyfield as a youth was an outstanding football player and represented the Bobcats on and off the field. He was noticed by college scouts and offered a scholarship to a school that is known for shaping kids and their futures.

“I had an outstanding senior year in high school and was fortunate enough to get a scholarship offer to Ouachita University,” he remarked.

It was his first time living away from home and his security network.

“I really had to soul search myself when I went there,” Holyfield concludes. “At OBU under Coach (Buddy Bob) Benson, that I learned a lot about life. He was definitely about family and he helped give me leadership qualities.”

When Holyfield arrived back home, he began his long tenure serving the city with employment first at the Fair Park.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Andrew Bishop, who worked at the Fair Park then,” he states.

“He got me involved with the Parks and Recreation first in their summer program in 1987 and I’ve been with the city ever since.”

That would be 35 years for those doing the math.

Holyfield heads the Sanitation department in Hope, serving the citizens well while being responsible for nearly 4,000 city stops each week.

Let’s take a second to talk trash.

Did you know, according to the EPA, that each individual in the United States produces about 4.4 pounds of trash each day? That adds up to serious tons each year. Per person.

Did you know on average, an infant will go through roughly 8,000 diapers before they are potty trained??? Americans make up approximately 5 percent of the worlds’ population, but generate nearly 40 percent of the solid waste.

We truly are a wasteful nation. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Many readers surely appreciate the efforts made every week to see that their waste is picked up on time and made to “disappear” from view seamlessly by Holyfield’s staff. Much like a well-trained football team.

“It’s not an easy chore,” says Holyfield. “We pick up trash four days a week with more than 3,500 stops. That’s simply our residential pick-ups and not including the commercial stops.”

Folks if you don’t have a new respect for your waste collectors, then try doing it yourself.

Most of the collectors greet you with a smile, a wave and many times a beep on the horn by the driver.

Be thankful for these folks. They should be shown the same hospitality and appreciation as one would greet a relative. Because each are part of our collective family here in Hope.

Holyfield is a leader in local Civic groups, having served the Kiwanis Club as a past president and currently heads the Hope/Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce Board. He’s been president of the Hope High School football association and also a 10-year president of the Hope High Athletic Booster Club.

As the current Chamber Board President, Holyfield has goals for this town he grew up in.

In a way, it’s his turn at the plate to help Chamber Director Christy Burns move this city forward.

“I’d like to see more activities downtown. That’s one of our plans right now, to get Hope revitalized down there.

“I’d also love to see a big community center like a YMCA-type gym. Let’s do it for our kids and their future.”