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Holmes, Mary (1880–1980)

Many of the district's older residents were saddened to learn of the passing, this week, of Mrs. Mary Holmes.

Mrs. Holmes, aged 99 years and nine months, passed away in the early hours of Monday morning at the Landsdown Nursing Home in Adelaide.

Mrs. Holmes was one of the true pioneers of the district. Born at Kangarilla, in April, 1880, Mary and her husband, Thomas Holmes, moved to Waikerie soon after their marriage in 1917.

Their first home was at Holder Settlement where Mrs. Holmes ran a boarding house, cooking and caring for 10 men who worked for Holder Limited.

The Holmes' only child, Ray, was born at Holder while the couple still lived in the boarding house.

It was later they bought a property at Maize Island. Seven acres which were planted to apricots, vines and oranges.

Their orchard was only just established when Mr. Holmes died suddenly in 1928.

It was then Mrs Holmes battled on, running the orchard and caring for her nine year old son. With the help of neighbours during harvest and pruning times, she managed to survive these trying period. 

In 1924 she opened a Sunday School at Holder Settlement which was attended by 30 children. This continued for seven years.

Mrs. Holmes worshipped at the Waikerie Methodist Church and each week, it meant a four mile walk to Waikerie for Mary and her son, Ray.

During World War I, Mrs. Holmes worked for Red Cross, nursing and performing other duties. This interest continued all her life and, until just recently, she did hand work for the Red Cross.

Her efforts for the Society did not go unrecognised, nor did her work of fund raising for the Flying Doctor Service.

Mrs. Holmes was a keen supporter of the Waikerie District Band, of which Ray was a keen member.

During the second World War, Mrs. Holmes son, Ray, joined the Royal Australian Navy and was tragically killed, near Darwin, in 1942. 

Although Mrs. Holmes was alone, she continued to make her way in life, ever helpful to neighbours and organisations assisting the needy.

Although her orchard was sold some years previous, Mrs. Holmes remained in her home, at Waikerie, until the age of 86.

From that time on, Mrs. Holmes lived with relatives in, and near, Adelaide, with the latter years spent at the Landsdown Nursing Home.

'A sincere and steadfast Christian faith, together with a delightful sense of humour which she retained to the end.

'Mrs. Holmes was loved and admired by all who knew her.'

Mrs. Holmes always wished to rest in peace at her beloved Waikerie.

A funeral service and burial service was held yesterday in memory of the late Mrs. Mary Holmes, a true pioneer of this district.

Original publication

  • River News (Waikerie, SA), 7 February 1980, p 7

Citation details

'Holmes, Mary (1880–1980)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 12 July 2020.

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