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Onnalee A. (Allen) Holmes

1926 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Onnalee A. (Allen) Holmes Obituary
Onnalee A. Holmes, 90, of Jonesville, passed away Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at Hillsdale County Medical Care Facility. She was born October 8, 1926 in Coldwater, Michigan. Her mother was born in Sweden and barely spoke English when she met David Allen, a roofer. Her father always claimed, she was the boy he never had, because instead, he had four daughters. So, she worked close with him. From her father, Onnalee learned carpentry and business skills. From her mother, she learned to cook, to sew, and to be a creative and loving mother.

During the depression, she was forced to drop-out of high school and work to help support the family. She worked as a seamstress in a factory. But she did have one luxury - she saved some of her money to take dance lessons from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. At some point she also took piano lessons and was gifted to play by ear. Onnalee was also a gifted artist. Even though her girlish dream was to be a model or a dancer, life took her in other directions. Later she worked as a telephone operator and then managed the drive-in restaurant, The Alamo, in Coldwater. Before the "feminist movement" in the United States, and during a time when most women identified themselves through their husband's work and their children, Onnalee was "juggling" motherhood, married life, and her own business pursuits.

Her creative desires were realized when she married Donald Holmes. They were married over 65 years. Their life together afforded her the opportunity to have three children, to create and architecturally depict her husband's future Chrysler, Plymouth and Imperial new car dealership and service center, and to spearhead the first drive-in restaurant, in the most "picturesque" location in Hillsdale County, The Town and Country Restaurant in Jonesville. When her father died, she used her inheritance to help Don start their muffler franchise, Husher Muffler. Besides being actively involved in these business enterprises, she also served as Don's book keeper, while also managing apartment rentals.

She is most remembered by her family for orchestrating her magical Christmas Eve celebrations! In preparation, she sewed personal Christmas stockings for each guest and filled them. At midnight, her son, Blake dressed as Santa Claus, delivered the stockings to all - adults and children alike. Before the midnight hour, there was a full buffet of food, drink, plenty of Christmas music, live piano or recordings, and even dancing. The decorated historical home in the which she lived, was a holiday celebration itself. One year she won Jonesville's Christmas decorating contest with her outdoor, hand-made, life-size, flying reindeer and Santa Claus, floating in red flood light.

Perhaps her greatest work as a mother occurred during the past seven years, when her son, Blake, was diagnosed with colorectal, bone, and lung cancers. She made a room and bath for him in the family home, for he was bedridden with cancer. She physically nursed Blake through his illness at home. During this time, her husband, Don, unexpectedly died at home, and the next year, she lost Blake. Her transition from a woman in control of everything in life to a dependent one was not an easy one for Onnalee; yet with consistent support of her CNA's and other staff at HCMCF, she proved herself to be more courageous than any woman I know.

Survivors include two daughters, Christina (James) Dunten of Litchfield and Scarlet (Michael) Sager of Jonesville; six grandchildren and a sister, Sylvia Lincoln of Sevierville, Tennessee. In addition to her husband, Donald, Onnalee was preceded in death by her son, Blake Holmes and two sisters, Barbara Norton and Susan Boley.

A celebration of life service for Onnalee Holmes will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, at Eagle Funeral Home in Jonesville with Pastor Bob Spangler officiating. Private interment will take place at Sunset View Cemetery in Jonesville. The family will receive friends for visitation from 12-2 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Bankers Baptist Church. Please visit www.eaglefuneralhomes.com to leave online condolences.
Published in The Hillsdale Daily News on Jan. 20, 2017
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