Philip D. Holmes ’41

Philip Dearborn Holmes died at home in the early evening of Monday, October 18, 2021 with Jean, his wife of 76 years holding his hand. Philip was born in Whitman, Massachusetts on October 30, 1922 to Carrie E. Chamberlain Holmes and J. Albert Holmes. He was a graduate of Whitman High School, Class of 1940, where he was active in its sports program and played on the football team during his junior and senior years. Dad attended Williston Academy after high School in preparation for his acceptance to Brown University. With the outbreak of WWII Dad left Brown to volunteer for the Navy who promptly rejected him as he could not pass the physical exam. The Coast Guard did the same. Determined to serve his country Dad entered the Maritime Service, a training organization for the Merchant Marine. He was trained as a radio operator and served as such of three Liberty ships and one Victory Ship. The (first) SS Henry Austin took him to the British beach heads Gold, Juno and Sword during the invasion of Normandy. He shuttled between London and the French coast with soldiers through August when the areas were considered secured. On other ships he covered great and dangerous distances off Iran, Antwerp, Mozambique, through the North Atlantic, the Suez Canal, Red Sea, Persian Gulf to bring needed fighting personnel and equipment. Returning home from the war Philip and Jean Harper were wed on November 6, 1945. Their first home together was in Providence, Rhode Island as Philip returned to Brown University and received his BS degree in Civil Engineering in 1949. Philip and Jean brought their young family to Cape Cod in the mid-1950s when Dad took a Civil Engineering job at, the then, Otis Air Force Base located in Bourne. After several years at Otis, Dad decided to start his own company called Philip D. Holmes Registered Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor in the town of Falmouth. His work took place during a period of changes in all areas of town. As his company grew Dad chose a partner and the name changed appropriately to Holmes McGrath, Inc. Michael McGrath bought the company when Dad retired. In 1983 Philip and Jean moved to Dover-Foxcroft, Maine where they managed their 250-acre woodlot and grew several acres of balsam fir Christmas trees. These were sold in their dooryard where families came to choose-and-cut their own tree, have a snowy sleigh ride and hot chocolate in the warm barn. Truly a magical time. In 1999 Philip and Jean returned to Cape Cod to be closer to their children and growing families. Dad is survived by his wife Jean Harper Holmes, daughter Martha Nickerson, and her partner Gail Donaldson, Nancy Sweeney, Susan DeJong, Judith Abbruzzi (Lawrence) and James Philip Holmes. There are six grandchildren; Matthew Sweeney (Allie), Sarah Allers (Philip), Thomas John Abruzzi (deceased), Lauren Medeiros (John), Molly Holmes, Rory Holmes and Taylor Holmes. AND six greatgrandchildren. A memorial service will be held at the Falmouth Congregational Church, 68 Main Street, at 11:00 AM on October 30, 2021, Philipss birthday. A private burial will be held at a later date. Donations are encouraged to both: Hospice of Cape Cod ( and Neighborhood Falmouth (,). The Holmes family cannot say enough about these two organizations and how much they helped comfort Dad in his declining years. From the bottom of our hearts; Thank You to all the volunteers, nurses and home health aides.