May 25, 1924 – November 16, 2018
Philip Holmes, our beloved founding/ life member and prime historian for the museum and all of the Tri-City area passed away in his home at age 94 on November 16. He is preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Grace Louise Holmes and his sister, Dorothy Frazier. He is survived by his three children, Stan, Wes , Cheryl and granddaughter, Christina Holmes; two brothers, Frank and Fred Holmes; and two sisters Beverly Faber and Barbara Abrahamse and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, December 15 at 1:00 pm at Centerville Presbyterian Church, 4360 Central Ave., Fremont, CA 94536.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Philip Holmes Memorial Fund at Washington Township Museum of Local History, 190 Anza St., Fremont, CA 94539 or to Centerville Presbyterian Church.
Phil was an integral part of the historical community since he and his family moved to the Tri-City area. His first year working at the newly formed Fremont Unified School District was spent hiring teachers for the expanding district. The following year, he became principal of Mattos Elementary where he stayed for 10 years. He then moved to Gomes elementary where he retired after 7 years in 1984.
Phil had a passion for local history. He wrote his master’s thesis about the local history of the area where he grew up in Washington. He also wrote a genealogical history of the Holmes Family. After moving to Fremont, he jumped right into pursuing his passion by researching and connecting with people and organizations in the Tri-City area who shared his interests. Phil said, “Local history is important for people to figure out who they are, where they came from and their purpose in life.” He added, “This is where you are and the place where you can make a contribution.”
Phil taught local history classes through Ohlone College in collaboration with Robert Fisher (1984-1992). He took hundreds of pictures of historical places and assembled them into slide shows for his class.
Phil became an active member in the historical groups, Mission Peak Heritage Foundation and Washington Township Historical Society. He was a founding member and first president of the Museum of Local History (1994). Phil worked to establish the archives and to acquire more collections.
Phil’s publishing and research days were just beginning. Phil and Dolores Rose wrote, Reflections, The Educational Heritage of Fremont in 1983. He also wrote more than 700 historical articles for three publications; The Argus (1990-1996), The Fremont Bulletin (1996-2002), and What’s Happening (1998-2002), which later became the Tri-City Voice (2002- 2015). As a member of the Mission San Jose Bicentennial Committee Phil wrote, Two Centuries of Mission San Jose, 1797-1997. In collaboration with Jill Singleton, he co-authored three books from the Images of America Series; Niles, Fremont (2004), Irvington, Fremont (2005), Centerville, Fremont (2011). In 2013 he co-authored with Patricia Schaffarczyk one more about Warm Springs, Fremont. Many residents have been touched by his stories.
In a celebration in his honor in 2010, the Museum of Local History, the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation and the Washington Township Historical Society declared Phil Holmes as the official historian for Fremont, which was concurred by the City of Fremont.
We at the museum want to express our deepest sympathies to Phil Holmes’ family and friends. Phil will be remembered fondly for his contributions to documenting, celebrating and supporting a study of the rich history of the Tri-City area.