William G. Holmes, a longtime resident of Kimball Farms in Lenox, passed away quietly April 14, 2017 at home. He was 104.
In his later years, much was made of his longevity. Living past 100, though becoming more common, is still fairly rare. But he was never one to brag and he always made the conversation about you, not him. To those who knew him, it was the fullness of his life that mattered more than the number of his years.
Bill Holmes was born in Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1912, the year Fenway Park opened and the Titanic sank. He was brought to America as an infant and grew up in Chicopee, Mass., where his father worked at Spalding’s golf club factory. He graduated from Commerce High School in Springfield and earned a business degree from Northeastern University, taking night classes while working full-time at Strathmore Paper Co.
He worked for Strathmore and its successors more than 50 years in West Springfield, Mass., and New York City, where he was a senior marketing executive. After his official retirement, he continued to work as a consultant in the paper industry and as a travel agent.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after Pearl Harbor. A commissioned officer, he worked in the War Department in Washington, the helped oversee the construction of the U.S.S. Antietam, an aircraft carrier that carried him to the Pacific Theater. He served in the Navy Reserve after the war, retiring with the rank of Commander.
While serving in Washington, he met the love of his life, Allie Coleman Davis. They corresponded throughout the war, and were married in 1946. They had been married for 67 years when she passed away in 2013.
Mr. Holmes was a devoted father, a volunteer and leader in community organizations, a great salesman and a savvy investor. He played golf into his 100th year. He was known for his sense of humor, but he never told a mean joke. He was a friend to all he met, and a true gentleman. Friends would say he made it all look easy.
Bill and Allie were active members of church congregations in Springfield, Mass., Old Greenwich, Conn., and West Stockbridge, Mass. In 1990, they were among the first residents of the Kimball Farms community in Lenox. They organized activities, ushered at Tanglewood, played lots of golf and made a new set of dear friends. Later, they were among the first residents of Kimball Farms’ Life Enrichment Program, where they were surrounded by warm, capable and caring staff members.
Mr. Holmes is survived by his five children: Peter Holmes of Barre, Mass., Charles Holmes of Leverett, Mass., Richard Holmes of Upton, Mass., Laurel Holmes of Revere, Mass., and David Holmes of Shutesbury, Mass.; by daughters-in-love Ellen Holmes, Donna Jenson, Donna O’Brien, and Jude Glaubman; by grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Lucas, Jennifer, Bonnie, Daniel, Olivia, Kaiden, Tommy, Jinx, Tiana, Raquel, Edwin, Michael, Cole, Gloria, and Allie Lew.
The family will be celebrating his life in a private service. Gifts in his memory may be made to the charity of choice in care of the Roche Funeral Home, 120 Main Street, Lenox, MA 01240
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