|Posted by Anne Siren on October 12, 2012 at 3:25 PM|
By Phyllis J. Neuberger
Pompano Beach - Robert Holmes may not look nor feel like a pioneer, but he can paint a picture of a rural farming community no one would recognize today. Born in Washington D.C., he was educated in the segregated south where he earned an A.B. degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.. He arrived in Pompano in 1958 for his first job as a math teacher at Blanche Ely High School.
What made him choose to live in Pompano? He laughs and says, “Well, Florida interested me because of the weather, and I had a girlfriend in Deerfield Beach. I guess that was reason enough for a young man to choose a destination.”
He describes Pompano as a “laid back rural area with bean farms. I lived in a segregated section of the city and I still live there. It was a friendly, comfortable community with a strong church presence. I related to it then and still do. I am a member of New Creation Baptist Church and have served as chairman of the Deacons’ Ministry since 1993.”
Holmes became part of the integration of Pompano as a member of a biracial committee established by then Mayor Stewart Kester. “That was the beginning,” he says. “We now have good representation in the city government. I feel that I, and any other African American, can live anywhere we can afford to live in Pompano Beach. I have chosen to remain in my same area because I want to help motivate our young population to achieve their potential.”
His philosophy, he says, “is molded into me since my early years at Morehouse which stressed, ‘You make a living by what you earn, but you make a life by what you give back to others.’ I have tried to live with this goal in mind.”
He currently serves as an alternate on the zoning board of appeals, a member of the Budget Review Committee, and is treasurer of the Unity in the Community Inc. of Pompano Beach.
He was married for 24 years and has two sons, two grandsons and two great grandchildren. He says, “My oldest son works in the food industry. My youngest son is the head of the Community Development Department of Lauderdale Lakes. We spend a lot of happy hours together.
Holmes started as a math teacher and remained one for a good part of his long career in education. He served a two-year stint as intern principal at Thomas Jefferson Jr. High in Miami.
In 1980 he was chosen to be a curriculum planner for Broward Schools ESAA Magnet Program. He moved from this assignment to become an assistant principal at McNicol Middle School in Hollywood, a job he kept until retirement in 1992. Along the way he earned his M.S. degree from Barry University and continued post graduate education at Benedict College, Florida State, Florida Atlantic University and the University of South Florida.
Throughout his life, Holmes has served and chaired many civic, school, county, alumni and church committees. His honors are legend. (See box).
Asked what improvements he would like see in his city, he says, “I would like to see our city have a short and long range plan for itself. If we had one, it would create a common goal for our commissioners instead of having them focus their interests on their own districts.”
He sums up his current status. “I’ve survived open heart surgery, a collapsed lung, and a recent automobile accident where the car was totaled but I walked away unharmed. That was like a message to me. God has more work for me to do, and I will keep on doing what I can.”
Thank you Robert Holmes for your efforts to improve life for those around you.
Honors and Awards
Nominee “Who’s Who Among Back Educators in America.1978
Nominee “Outstanding E.S.E. Administrator , 1991-2 School Board of Broward County
1998 Alumnus of the Year Award, Morehouse College National Alumni Association
2003 Outstanding Service Award, Morehouse College Nat’l Alumni Association
2005 North Broward County Links, Inc. Lifetime Achievement Award
2006 Presidential Service Award, Morehouse Nat’l Alumni Association
Recognized as a Broward County Pioneer on Oct. 20, 2012