Robert “Mr. Bojangles” Hollis
Mayor James T. Butts Announces $50,000 Reward for Crime Information
Family and friends gathered at Faithful Central Bible Church (FCBC) in Inglewood on Monday, June 22 to celebrate the life of Robert “Mr. Bojangles” Hollis. “We’re here to celebrate a great man…a man I never saw sad, a man who served a great God,” said Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, Sr. Pastor of FCBC. Ulmer reminded those gathered that they were “meeting on the common ground of catastrophe shared with nine other families. We join the nine families, friends and members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, trying to make sense of acts that are totally senseless.
These are dark days…[these murders] are crazy, ungodly, demonic, satanic and should be called out as such. But tonight – we will celebrate the light of love that came through Robert Hollis, Ulmer said.”
The FCBC Men of Faith Choir, directed by Donald Taylor, began the celebration with a rousing rendition of “God Is”. Musical tributes were plentiful as the Inspirational Voices of Free! – a group Hollis sang with for 15 years also paid tribute through song. “His voice and spirit were wonderful. He was a very nice man,” said Founder Windy Barnes Farrell.
Poignantly weaved throughout the vigil were recordings of the melodic singing voice of Robert Hollis, each song helping to tell the story of how he lived. Hollis a four-year member of the Men of Faith Choir was hailed as a “committed member despite his physical challenges. He was 80% blind but we took care to make sure that he had rides to rehearsal and to the services. He was a part of us and we will miss him dearly,” Taylor said.
Norma Hollis, his former wife of 27 years and family members remembered Robert’s sense of style and fun (he once dressed in costume as Rick James) and his talent as a gifted sign and car artist. Hollis, affectionately known as Mr. Bojangles, was the owner of Bojangles Sign Studio. Bishop L.J. Guillory, of the Ombudsman General Office described Hollis as a “faithful servant of God, a man of goodwill and someone you wanted to customize your car. Speaking directly to the Hollis family, Guillory said that his death was “not just a crime against the Hollis family but a crime against humanity, against us.”
Hollis, 75, was found decapitated inside his apartment in the 800 block of Glenway Drive on June 18th. His son made the gruesome discovery after a neighbor called him out of concern when Hollis failed to show up for a ride to the grocery store. According to the coroner’s office, Hollis was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:51p.m.
Inglewood Mayor, the Honorable James T. Butts said “there are some things where you ask God is there really a plan? Robert’s life, the way that he lived has reassured me that there is absolutely a plan. I know that vengeance belongs to God but earthly justice is the province of those who serve.” Butts along with City Council members Alex Padilla and George Dotson and Inglewood Chief of Police Mark Fronterotta announced to great applause plans to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) involved in the crime.
The Honorable Mark Ridley Thomas echoed the shock of this crime calling it “unspeakable.” “Our objective is to make sure that justice is served and that we pause, take note, and bear witness that we should never be so numb to the violence in our city without recognizing that his was a life worth taking note of.”
The praises for the life of Robert Hollis were heralded by many: Jerrold Smith, Assistant Pastor of the Third Church for Spiritual Living asked those in attendance to “reflect on what really matters in this life and to think of how Robert lived.” Sister Floy Hawkins of the St. Brigid Catholic Church called Hollis a “servant of God,” and Dorothy Stephens, a former partner of Hollis said that the man she called “Bo” was a great personality, a creative and talented artist,” and his youngest son, Austin, called his dad, “extraordinary, relentless, and compassionate.” And then the room was dark, and one by one, candles were lit in honor of Robert Hollis, a life that mattered.
The investigation into the death of Robert Hollis is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Inglewood Police Department at (310) 412-5246.