Sunday July 22, 2012

LENOX -- As the writer of the family, Rick Holmes took it upon himself to compose a tribute to his father:

"It was quite a year, 1912. First the Titanic sank, then Fenway Park opened, then my dad was born," he wrote in a three-page gift to his family. "The Titanic still sits at the bottom of the Atlantic. Fenway still stands on Yawkey Way. And Dad is still kicking out in the Berkshires. This is his story."

Holmes presented the story Saturday afternoon as part of the 100th birthday celebration for his father, William G. "Bill" Holmes.

Bill Holmes lives at Kimball Farms in Lenox with his wife of 66 years, Allie, who is four years his junior.

"This is quite some party," Allie Holmes said, leaning toward her husband, who patted his hand on her arm.

A spread of sandwiches, salads, fresh cut flowers and lemonade lay before a gathering of four generations of Holmes family members. The family includes five children, four grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

While her great-grandfather sat in the shade of an umbrella, 3-year-old Gloria putted a plastic golf ball from a play set put out for her.

"Just like her great-grandfather," said Peter, the youngest of the five children of Bill and Allie Holmes.

Peter said his father, an avid golfer, made it out on a course last year, at 99, and still has hopes of getting out this year.

Bill Holmes' daughter Laurie said in addition to instilling a love of golf into them, they all have learned to appreciate a good story.


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Bill's parents, George Hol mes and Elizabeth Warnock, were Irish immigrants who ended up in the Springfield area. When she became pregnant, Warnock insisted on returning to Ireland to be with her mother to give birth. She was on a ship when the mayday call was made nearby from the Titanic. "Bill heard it in utero," one family member said.

Bill was safely born on July 21, 1912, in Armagh, northern Ireland.

Throughout Saturday afternoon, the family shared more about Bill's life, from the time he pitched a no-hit baseball game to his long-time career at Strathmore Paper Co., to his naval service in World War II.

Bill's granddaughters, Olivia and Bonnie Holmes, both said it's hard to think about a century-long life.

"Seems like a long time," Bonnie Holmes said.

In thinking back on some of his milestones, Bill Holmes said, "It seems like only yesterday."

To reach Jenn Smith:
jsmith@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6239
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink