June 13, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 23

Holmes dies at 95

A celebration of the life of Florence Holmes was held May 28 in Fairbanks. She died May 19 at age 95.

The second of five children born to P.B. “Doc” and Ella Allen of Haines, Holmes was one of three students who graduated from Haines High School in 1935. Living and working in Fairbanks without enough money for visits home, Holmes earned her education degree and went on to a 27-year career as a schoolteacher, including in Alaska Bush communities and in Texas.

“She highly prized education, consistently promoted its value, and proudly maintained a retired, lifetime Alaska teaching certificate. It was often said Florence had the patience and the skills to teach any student to read,” family members said in an email.

Holmes was raised on a homestead on Sullivan Island. Named Mildred Florence, she became known as Florence because there were too many other Mildreds in her first-grade class, her family said.

“She loved her youthful years in Haines, and her eyes took on a special shine when she talked of those early times, of picking the sweetest, Haines-sized blueberries, of the Fourth of July races, of her dad’s entrepreneurial enterprises (dairy farming, lumber, organic gardening, International Harvester dealer), and of her high school women’s basketball team,” her family wrote.

She married her college sweetheart, a tall, red-headed Canadian, Orval Winston Holmes Sr. in 1940, in Fairbanks. They raised four children in Alaska and Texas. The family enjoyed transcontinental camping trips, visiting friends and relatives, seeing new sites, card games with friends, picnics and family trips to swim in the ocean.

Holmes returned to Haines for a family reunion here in 1964 and again in 2000 when she and her two Haines classmates reunited to celebrate the 65th anniversary of their graduation. The event included proclamations, banners and celebrity status.

Holmes was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Beta Chapter, P.E.O., Chapter B Sisterhood, the Pioneers of Alaska Auxiliary, the First Presbyterian Church and the Fairbanks Garden Club.

She was preceded in death by parents, P.B. (Doc) and Ella Anastasia Carroll Allen; husband Orval Winston Holmes Sr.; sisters Ellen Ruby Allen McCoy, Cletus Colleen Allen and Carroll Faye Allen Munson; and by brother Robert Oran Allen.

Surviving children include Eleanor Carroll Holmes Houts, Orval Winston Holmes Jr., Colleen Margaret Holmes Johnston and Russell Allen Holmes.

Donations can be made to the Florence Holmes Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Eleanor Houts, P.O. Box 81944, Fairbanks, AK 99708.