By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
WINSTON-SALEM —”Truly a good and honorable man who worked alongside the Christian Action League on some of North Carolina’s most critical social issues” — that’s how former state representative George Holmes will be remembered according to the Rev. Mark Creech, the League’s executive director.
A 32-year veteran of the Legislature who represented Yadkin and parts of surrounding counties, Holmes died on New Year’s Eve at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, less than two years after announcing that health problems would prevent him from running for re-election. He was 80 years old.
“George was what I would call old-school conservative politics, God bless him. May his tribe live on,” Creech said. “Our deepest sympathies and ardent prayers are now for the family.”
Holmes’ wife, Barbara, a retired schoolteacher, lives in Hamptonville.
Born in Mount Airy, N.C., Holmes spent some of his teen years in Washington, D.C.,, before his family returned to the area. He played baseball for the Mount Airy Graniteers and earned a football scholarship at Appalachian State University, where he graduated in 1954. After a few years of teaching and coaching at West Yadkin High, he went to work for W.N. Ireland Insurance, rising to president and co-owner.
A Republican, he was elected to the Legislature in 1974. He lost only once over the next three decades, and was unopposed in 2004 and 2006. During his last session, he served on the Appropriations Committee as well as committees on Aging, Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform, Financial Institutions, Judiciary, Public Utilities and University Board of Governors Nominating.
In addition to receiving the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award in 1992 and the N.C. Senior Tarheel Legislative Award for Exemplary Leadership in in 1996, Holmes was honored by his alma mater with ASU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995. That was the year that he gained support for a funding package allocating $25.6 million for the university’s convocation center — the 8,325-seat facility that was named in his honor.
Holmes earned the Veterans of Foreign Wars Exemplary Service Award in 1995 and the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce Public Service Award in 1993.
In addition to his wife, Holmes is survived by one daughter and three grandchildren as well as three brothers and a sister. His funeral will be Sunday at Flat Rock Baptist Church in Yadkinville.
In other Legislative news, Sen. R.C. Soles Jr., the state’s longest-serving senator has said he will not run for re-election next year. State prosecutors have announced they will seek an assault charge against the Tabor City Democrat who shot a former law client that he said was trying to break into his home.
The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case as well as other allegations against the 74-year-old senator.
“Senator Soles has had many years of distinguished service. He has made history as the longest serving Senator in North Carolina, which is no small accomplishment,” said the Rev. Creech. “As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, he purposely made it possible over and again for the Christian Action League to make its case on alcohol issues before this powerful key committee.”
“I appreciate Senator Soles and pray that in his days of retirement from the legislature he would know both justice and peace,” he added.
Soles represents Brunswick, Columbus and Pender counties. He has served 17 terms in the Senate and four in the House. In addition to his role on the Commerce Committee, he is Vice-Chairman of Judiciary I and a member of Appropriations on Justice and Public Safety, Appropriations/Base Budget, Finance, Rules and Operations of the Senate, Select Committee on Economic Recovery, State and Local Government and Transportation Committee.
He was declared a North Carolina Institution by the Senate in 2005.