Robert Crawford Holmes (July 15, 1941-August 7, 2022) was born in Urbana, Illinois to W. Robert Holmes & Frances Crawford Holmes, while his father was working on his doctorate at the University. Daddy’s first position was at North Park College (now University) in Chicago, and here Bob, Bobby to his closest friends and family, began his collecting career, beginning with bottle caps found on the street. When he was 6 years old, the family headed out to Sri Lanka as missionary educators. Pausing in the UK, his father purchased for Bobby his first set of stamps, which began a lifetime of stamp collecting. Bob recounted many stories of adventures on the great trans-Atlantic ships as a boy, and he was thrilled to see the USS United States in Philadelphia harbor, because he had crossed the Atlantic in that ship.
Stationed in Vaddukoddai at Jaffna College, the Holmes family became lifelong friends with the Bunker and Lockwood families. The children of these 3 families became, and still are, close friends, and attended Kodaikanal International boarding school in south India together, camped and hiked together, collected butterflies, snakes and any other random thing that captured their fancies. Bob’s family can attest to the fact that we still live with most of those treasures to this day.
Bob returned to the United States at age 18 to attend his parents’ alma mater, Wheaton College in Illinois, where he was an All-American athlete in soccer, as well as summer at Lake George with his maternal grandparents. After college, he returned to India in the Peace Corps. There, he developed a lifelong friendship with Dave Elliott, his Peace Corps partner, who with his wife Sherry, would become godparents to his son. He returned to the United States with a group of fellow volunteers, following the route of Alexander the Great from India through Afghanistan.
Upon his return to the U.S., Bob enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Masters program in South Asia Regional Studies, and settled in Philadelphia, PA. He began working for the State of New Jersey, first in Community Affairs and ending his career with the state in Student Assistance.
In Philadelphia, Bob met his wife Nora on his 36th birthday, and she often reminded him that she was the best birthday present he ever got. Together they eventually settled in New Jersey and wed in 1981. Living first in Trenton, and then moving to Hopewell Valley, where they raised their children, Genevieve and Aubrey. An active and contributing member of St Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Pennington, he volunteered for every event and organized St Matt’s TASK team and worked Arm In Arm. A certified ‘Lifetime’ Master Gardener (MG) of Mercer County and a loving father and husband, he supported his wife’s many undertakings and volunteer activities. He was known and loved by her students as well, who often called him ‘Mr. Sirbaugh’ to his amusement. His wife described him as her wingman. He was a dreadful punster and great listener. He defined his ambition in life as family and requested that we remember that he was ‘very proud of my children and loved being with people.’
In addition to his much-loved family, wife Nora and daughter Genevieve (husband Vladimir) and son Aubrey (partner Nicole), Bob is survived and remembered by his beloved sister Carol Lou (husband Richard), his Indian brother Kalim (wife Nikhat and sons Asif and Sahir), as well as his Kodai family, MG friends, St Matt’s, his Top Spinner tennis buddies, CWW friends, and so many, many more. The world has been made richer for his presence.
Memorial service: Saturday, September 17 at 10 a.m. at St Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 300 South Main Street, Pennington, NJ 08534 followed by a celebration of his life.
Donations in his memory can be made to Kodaikanal International School http://www.alumni.kis.in/donate
Or TASK, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen https://www.trentonsoupkitchen.org/ways-to-give/