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Donald K. Holmes

July 17, 1931 March 24, 2013
Donald K. Holmes
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Obituary for Donald K. Holmes

Donald K. “Don” Holmes, 81, died Sunday, March 24, 2013, at Virginia Gay Nursing and Rehab in Vinton following a long illness.
    A Celebration of Life for Don will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at the home of Jeff and Angie Holmes, 705 1st Avenue, Vinton. A memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 30, at Vinton Presbyterian Church with Gene Spicer, CLP, officiating. Inurnment with military rites will be held in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Waterloo at a later date.
    Don was born July 17, 1931, in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the youngest of four sons of H. Roy and Amy (Hanna) Holmes. He graduated from Iowa State Teachers College High School in 1949, and after attending Iowa State Teachers College (ISTC) in Cedar Falls and participating on the wrestling team that went on to win the 1950 National Championship, he left school in 1950 to join the U.S. Navy.
    He married Barbara Meewes on December 16, 1951, in Waterloo, and she followed him to Navy assignments in Philadelphia and Newport, RI. He returned to ISTC in 1953 and graduated in May of 1957 with a degree in science and secondary education.
    He started teaching in Manchester in 1957, just three months after their son, Jeffory, was born. Don taught biology and general science at Manchester High School while serving as an assistant coach in football and wrestling.
    In 1961, the family moved to Vinton where Don began a 33-year run as a member of the Vinton (and later, Vinton-Shellsburg) faculty. Over those years he taught everything from general science to world geography to personal economics. He is probably best remembered for teaching biology and physiology, as well as driver’s education, which he taught for 38 summers.
    Don was the head wrestling coach at Vinton from 1961 to 1973. He led the Vikings to the program’s only WaMaC wrestling championship in 1972. His teams won three sectional championships (1965, 1971 and 1972), and six invitational tournament championships, both more than any other coach in program history. His 61 dual-meet victories rank him second all-time behind only his nephew, Jeff Frost. Don was in the first class of inductees to the Viking Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
    Don was a wrestling official for nearly three decades. He worked his first of 19 straight Iowa State High School state tournaments in 1975 and retired from officiating in 1993. Additionally, he officiated numerous college meets over the years at the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. In both 1977 and 1978, he was chosen to officiate the NCAA Division II National Championships at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. He also worked at the scoring tables of the 1991, 1995 and 2001 NCAA Division I tournaments in Iowa City and the 1997 meet in Cedar Falls. Don was elected to the Iowa High School Coaches and Officials Hall of Fame in 1988.
    Don was an avid golfer, and he and Barbara were long-time members of the Vinton Country Club. He also enjoyed fishing, his beloved St. Louis Cardinals, and his UNI Panthers. He was a joker and a poet, and he was devoted to his family and friends, especially in later years to his “Best Buddy,” his grandson, Sage.
    He took great pride in every athlete and student he ever encountered. While he was always pleased with their accomplishments on the mat or in the classroom, he took even more pride in the people they went on to be – doctors, lawyers, ministers, community leaders, husbands, wives and parents. Every student and athlete was equal in his eyes. And he always took a secret pride that many of his former athletes and students still called him “Coach” or “Mr. Holmes” decades after they’d had him in school.
    Don is survived by his wife of 61 years, Barbara, of Vinton; his son and daughter-in-law, Jeff and Angela Holmes, and his beloved grandson, Sage, all of Vinton; his brother, Glenn (Freddie) Holmes of Cedar Falls; numerous nieces and nephews across the country; and countless friends whose lives he had touched.
    He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers: Dale and Wayne Holmes; and his niece, Judy Holmes Mortenson.
    A memorial fund has been established.


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