William Holst grew up in Smithtown, where his parents were local merchants. His father and mother owned and operated Smithtown Florist and Kings Park Florist for decades and Bill during his teenage years worked in the family businesses. He graduated Smithtown Central High School in 1970 and went on to graduate New York University, receiving a B.A. in 1974. Bill received recognition as an “NYU Founders’ Day Scholar”.
Bill served in the United States Army from 1975 to 1978. He was a “Distinguished Honor Graduate” of the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana and served at Fort Knox, Kentucky and at Camp Zama, Japan. During his military service Bill was awarded the Army Commendation Medal on two occasions.
After the Army, he worked as a paraprofessional in the Law Department of a Fortune 500 Corporation at its Manhattan headquarters and attended St. John’s University School of Law in the evening program. Upon graduation from St. John’s Law School in 1982 he remained with the company and was promoted to a position of Litigation Counsel representing the interests of the company in New York State and Federal courthouses within the five boroughs of NYC as well as coordinating the efforts of outside counsel in other parts of the United States.
Bill and his wife, Laura purchased a home in the Township of Smithtown and moved in with their baby daughter during the summer of 1985. He was appointed by the Town Board of the Town of Smithtown to serve as an Assistant Town Attorney in January 1987, when he served as a Special Assistant District Attorney in District Court prosecuting Town Code violations and litigated matters regarding the State Environmental Quality Review Act (‘SEQRA’), land use and employment matters. Bill has represented a number of municipal entities during his legal career including: the County of Suffolk, as an Assistant County Attorney; and the City of Long Beach, as Corporation Counsel (Chief Legal Officer).
As an Assistant Suffolk County Attorney from March of 2004 to October 2017, Bill was the principal attorney representing the Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services in a variety of matters including guardianship proceedings resulting from investigations by Adult Protective Services into elder abuse and financial exploitation of the disabled. He has been a presenter and panelist before professional organizations, including the New York State Bar Association, the Suffolk County Bar Association and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys on topics including Guardianship issues and Medicaid. As an Assistant County Attorney, Bill appeared in various courts throughout Long Island. Bill has also represented the Director of the Suffolk County Division of Community Mental Hygiene, Department of Health with respect to the well-being of those who have been found to suffer from mental illness and are a danger to themselves and/or to the community.
Bill has served in a number of elected and other appointed public service positions, in addition to those noted above, during his career, including: Suffolk County Legislator (March 1997 – December 1999); Suffolk County Clerk (May – December 1989); Deputy Commissioner, Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs (March 1988 – May 1989) and School Board Member of the Smithtown Central School District (May 1989 – July 1993).
While a Suffolk County Legislator, he Chaired the Economic Development and Education Committee and Co-Chaired the Legislature’s Veterans and Seniors Committee as well as conducted public hearings throughout Suffolk County as Chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Downtown Revitalization. As School Board President in 1992 and 1993 he presided over the Board meetings of the Smithtown Central School District.
While operating his own law practice in Smithtown (June 1991 through March 2004), Bill served as an officer of the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce and was President of the Chamber in 1996.
He and his wife, Laura are parents of two adult children, a daughter, Marcia, and son, Ian. They are grandparents to twin grandsons.