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John A. Holmes Jr.

June 26, 1949 ~ August 9, 2023 (age 74) 74 Years Old

John Holmes Jr. Obituary

John A. Holmes, Jr. beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother died peacefully in his sleep on August 9, 2023 at the age of 74.  His remarkable life, albeit too short, was filled with family and close friends as well as a vast network of political allies and adversaries – who would undoubtedly become friends - colleagues and associates who would all agree on one simple truth:  There was no one quite like John A. Holmes, Jr.

John’s life was best defined by his unshakeable love for family, his loyalty and concern for friends, his service to those in need and his love for Rhode Island politics.

Born on June 26th, 1949 to his parents, John A. Holmes, Sr. and Margaret Kelly Burke, who have preceded him in death, he was a proud resident of Smith Hill in Providence where he and his sister, Donna M. Holmes, now of Warwick, attended St. Patrick’s School before his family moved to the East Bay where he would graduate from Bristol High School in 1967. He relished the role of big brother and was a steady, guiding presence in his sister’s life throughout all of his years.

He married the love of his life, Kathleen, “Kathy” Holmes in 1979 and recently celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary.  Their family would grow to include two children, Dana Holmes of Gloucester, Rhode Island and John A. Holmes III of East Providence. In addition to his children and sister, he is survived by his daughter-in-law, Christina Holmes, and three grandsons, Ethan age13, Aidan age 11 and John IV, 18 months.

John is perhaps best remembered as a political powerhouse in Republican politics.  He served two terms as chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party from 1982 – 1986 and again in the early 1990’s.  He sent shockwaves across Rhode Island by electing a record number of Republicans to the legislature. He was a candidate for US Congress in 1986 and served as a delegate to the Republican National Committee (RNC) for President Ronald Reagan, candidate Bob Dole, President Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush.

He was first a political ally and then became a close friend of former Governor Lincoln Almond, serving as his Finance Chair for his two terms as governor. The two would talk every day until the governor’s death earlier this year.

John’s political acumen was so unique and profound, however, that he was revered by both Democrats and Republicans alike. His deep friendships defied political stereotypes so much so that he would often serve as the lone Republican at a weekly Aurora Club lunch. Those luncheons proved to be a highlight of his week as he loved to interact with staff and dined with an intimate circle of friends who would endeavor to solve the problems of the world.

Gifted with many attributes, one that stood out to all was his ability to make connection.  From the drawing room of mansions on Bellevue Ave in Newport to the tough streets of his youth, he loved talking to and truly listening to people from all walks of life. Because of that gift, he was beloved, and now sorely missed, by so, so many.

In his later years, and especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, John reveled in staying close to family from his East Providence home where he dedicated long hours to championing his son’s landscape construction business of which he was particularly proud. His jam-packed days were spent imparting political and business wisdom with colleagues and associates, providing a strong, loving influence in the lives of his three grandsons, spoiling his wife with care and attention, regaling neighbors and friends with stories of political giants and chewing, but never smoking, the ever present cigar.

A man of remarkable Catholic faith, John was devoted to the nuns of the Carmelite Sisters in Barrington, visiting weekly and asking for their prayers for family and friends in need.  The sisters were never far from his thoughts. Every July 4th he delivered to them over a dozen lobster rolls from his favorite restaurant, The Lobster Pot, along with a case of wine.

In addition to his dedication to the Carmelite Sisters, he served on the Board of the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Association, Spurwink School in North Providence and was a member of the Diabetes Association of Rhode Island.  He is a past board member of Beacon Mutual Insurance and the Good Samaritans. He and his late father-in-law, Anthony Romano, also were part of the founders of Gloucester Pines, now a horse farm and housing development in northern Rhode Island.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, August 18, 2023 at 10:00 AM from St. Luke’s Church, 108 Washington Road, Barrington, Rhode Island 02806. In lieu of flowers, the family would be most appreciative of donations made in his memory to the retirement fund for his beloved Carmelite Sisters, P.O Box 78, Barrington, RI 02806.

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Services

Mass of Christian Burial
Friday
August 18, 2023

10:00 AM
St. Luke s Church Catholic Church
108 Washington Road
Barrington, RI 02806

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