Howard Holmes, of Mora, passed away on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at the FristLight Health System in Mora. He was 98 years old.
FUNERAL SERVICE will be at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 20th at Calvary Lutheran Church in Mora with Rev. Dean Oelfke officiating.
VISITATION will be from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 19th at Akkerman-Ingebrand Funeral Home; plus 1 hour prior to the funeral on Saturday at the church.
INTERMENT will be at Riverside Cemetery in Brunswick.
After 98+ years, a big, strong heart of gold has quit beating. Howard passed away Tuesday evening, April 9 at First Light Hospital in Mora, MN.
Howard Ashton Holmes was born December 23, 1914 to Herbert & Emma (Bergman) Holmes on the family farm in Brunswick. He spent his childhood working on the family farm and attending Brunswick School. As a young man, he hauled livestock and had a cream route. In October 1941, he was drafted into the army only weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In the fall of 1942 Howard volunteered for a “dangerous and hazardous mission”. This mission became known as the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater of Operations. On February 7, 1944 this unit, now known as Merrill’s Marauders, comprised of 3000 soldiers, set out on foot through mountainous, muddy, dense forest and jungle conditions – enduring not only engagements with the enemy, but also sickness, scorpions, snakes, limited air drops of food and supplies, and more – with the goal of overtaking a Japanese airfield. Howard’s role was that of a mule leader – a pivotal role because the only means to move supplies and weaponry was by mule. Merrill’s Marauders successfully seized the airfield on May 17, 1944 after marching for approximately 600 miles. Howard was evacuated and sent to a hospital in India weighing 115 lbs. In October 1945, he was officially discharged and headed back to Brunswick. In 1983, a Bronze Star came to Howard in the mail. Last fall, he was recognized by fellow Army rangers (retired and current) for his service and sacrifice. Howard “Skinner” Holmes was a proud, but humble, soldier.
On July 5, 1951 Howard married Bonnie Eaton and raised their family of five children together. He worked for the Mora Police Dept and then Honeywell in Minneapolis until he retired in 1976. Even after retirement, he worked part-time digging trenches, delivered meals, served as a Kanabec County Commissioner and on Brunswick’s Riverside Cemetery Board. He also enjoyed playing card games and cribbage for many years.
Howard was preceded in death by his son, Clair; brothers George and Claire; sisters Helen Hasty, Emma Johnson and Verna Mae Strand.
He is survived by and will be dearly missed by his wife of 61+ years Bonnie; three sons Harlan (Lucy) Holmes of Omaha, NE; Terry (Bonnie) Holmes of Mora; and Todd (Debi) Holmes of Mora and one daughter Heidi (Mark) McGregor of Rosemount, MN; daughter-in-law Lori Holmes of Independence, MO; 15 grandchildren: Ryan, Katie, Erick, Jocelyn, Jordan, Helen, Dustin, Melissa, Jake, Betsy, Ashley, Colin, Annie, Maureen and Hannah and 18 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by one brother Dare Holmes of Mora along with numerous nieces and nephews.