Duane J. Holiday, who was devoted to helping disabled people as executive director of Easter Seals in Sacramento for almost three decades, died Oct. 25 of heart failure, his family said. He was 90.
Mr. Holiday oversaw major changes as the longest-serving leader of Easter Seals. He joined the agency, which was then called the Sacramento County Society for Crippled Children and Adults, in 1961.
Under his leadership, Easter Seals flourished as a top service provider for people with disabilities. He oversaw growth in donations, revenue, facilities and programs, including a rehabilitation pool, a wing for speech and physical therapy, and services for adults with developmental disabilities.
"He was a big, imposing man, and when he walked in a room you paid attention," said Sandra Smoley, former California secretary of health and welfare. "But he was a very calm individual. His work with children and Easter Seals was magical."
With the advent of polio vaccines and a general decrease in childhood diseases, Mr. Holiday led a shift in focus at Easter Seals to health needs of adults. He added a swimming program for post-mastectomy patients and created a leading stroke-rehabilitation program, including occupational therapy, speech pathology, home care and counseling.
He retired after 28 years at the nonprofit agency, now called Easter Seals Superior California.
"His legacy is still everywhere you look," said Gary Kasai, Easter Seals president and chief executive officer. "The man was a huge contributor to the Sacramento area and to disabled people. The commitment and culture of serving people that he brought is what Easter Seals is all about."
The son of an insurance salesman, Mr. Holiday was born in 1921 in Battle Creek, Mich. During World War II, he served with the 493rd Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Normandy and other fierce battles in Europe.
He graduated from college in Michigan and earned master's degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. He was coordinator for rehabilitation services in Los Angeles County and led the Easter Seal Society in Contra Costa County before moving to Sacramento.
Mr. Holiday served on the State Rehabilitation Council and was chairman of the Sacramento County Health Planning Council. He was active in the Sacramento Suburban Kiwanis Club and Sierra Arden Congregational Church.
He had three children with his wife of 47 years, Marianna, who died in 1993.
For many years, he took his family on road trips to dog shows around the country and handled his 160-pound, champion St. Bernard, Kris.
He worked as a real estate agent after leaving Easter Seals and volunteered with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and Sutter Hospitals.
He snow-skied into his 70s and sailed a boat in the Sacramento River Delta until a few years ago.
"He always stayed active," said his son, Judd. "He just recently got his driver's license renewed and drove until the last day."