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Donald Holmes Obituary

PEORIA - Donald C. Holmes, 88, of Washington, D.C., formerly of Peoria, Ill., passed away Sunday, May 1, 2011, at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C.

He was born Dec. 31, 1922, in Peoria, Ill., to John S. and Frances Wilhelm Holmes.

His great-great-great-aunt, Lydia Moss Bradley, founded Bradley University in Peoria, and his grandfather, Zealy Holmes, served for many years on its board of directors.

His parents were prominent farmers and landowners in Mossville, Ill.

He had a brother and two sisters, one of whom, Jean Holmes Keithley of Peoria, survives him.

Donald attended Bradley University, where he was a member of Sigma Phi fraternity.

He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942, which sent him to Penn State and Northwestern University. In 1945, he was commissioned and received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Northwestern.

He served in the Pacific Theater in World War II and was stationed in Guam when the war ended. He also fought in five campaigns during the Korean War, including the Chosin Reservoir. He received two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star with Combat V, and two Letters of Commendation with Combat Vs.

On June 20, 1946, he wed Shirley Jean McGrane, whose family lived in Peoria. They were married for 60 years before her death in 2007.

The couple had four children, Suzanne, Robert, Marilyn and Janice; and four grandchildren, Brian, Miranda, Scott and Marly.

After the war, Donald taught chemistry and coached wrestling at Bradley.

In 1952, he moved to the D.C. area and began a distinguished career in government: as an analyst with the CIA, serving in the U.S. and then in Frankfurt, Germany; with the Department of Defense, managing the armed services' programs of research in chemistry; with NASA's Office of University Affairs, directing a program to build graduate research facilities at universities (where he received the Apollo Achievement Award); with EPA, heading a program to develop techniques for monitoring environmental pollutants (where he was appointed Associate Deputy Assistant Administrator). He retired from civilian service in 1974 and from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1982, as a lieutenant colonel.

In retirement, he started a business based on his hobbies of repairing and renovating antiques and houses, which he continued until 1985.

He also enjoyed gardening, playing bridge, and following favorite sports teams.

For many years, he traveled extensively with his wife throughout the U.S. and Europe, visiting family and friends.

He was a longtime member of the Bradley Society and supported fundraising for the school. He was also a member of the Society of the Cincinnati and the Sons of the American Revolution through his ancestor, Zealy Moss, a wagon master in the Revolutionary War.

Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery in August.


Published in Peoria Journal Star on May 15, 2011
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