By Liam Maguire
Rest in peace Greg ‘Homer’ Holmes. Sad news the other day with the word going around that Greg had lost his battle with cancer. Just sucks. Child number two of Joyce and Stuart’s to pass away and that in itself just seems grossly unfair. As for Greg, like all of his siblings, he was a fantastic athlete, a great community guy, a passionate Detroit Red Wing fan, and above all an amazing family man.
I met him as everybody else did in the 60s and 70s, at the arena. Who could know then how much that place would become his professional life and later of course to see his father’s name adorned so honourably and appropriately on the building. Nobody could have foreseen those things 50+ years ago. At that time, he was simply third in line in the family ripping up ball diamonds and arenas and entering his teenage years as one of the more popular guys around. A great looking guy, didn’t really say much, just like Dean! He was quiet but with an air of confidence that oozed out of him. And always in shape, always.
I’m not sure when the Christmas hockey tourneys were first played in Osgoode. But it was one of those in the early 80’s that I played my one and only game with Greg. What a team we had. Greg and Jeff representing the Holmes’. Several Kellys from the River Road. My longtime friend from St. Leonard’s days who would go on to be one of Greg’s dearest friends, Billy O’Brien. I believe Ray Faith was our goalie. And we kicked ass. Greg was outstanding.
An early measure of the respect and popularity the man had with his fantastic wife Kathy was the turnout for their stag held on the Osgoode Arena ice surface. Theirs’, along with Carolyn and Rory Bradley’s stag in Stittsville, were the two biggest social events of the entire decade in the region of Ottawa-Carleton. They had bars at each end of the rink. Think about this for a second. This was on the ice surface and there were people in every inch of space. It gave a new meaning to the word packed.
I had a long chat with Bonnie O’Brien recently about some other matters and Greg’s name came up. She was telling me about their ‘play day’s’ on Friday nights when several couples would get-together for some cards, food, drinks, just a great time and a long standing tradition that carried on for years. I was reminded of that when I came across this picture taken at the last Brian Robinson Memorial golf tourney with who else, Greg and Billy O’Brien. His passing represents a huge loss and leaves another gaping hole in our community. If you’re reading this and didn’t know him or the family, but your family have occasion to visit or use the Stuart Holmes Arena, know now that he was a part of that family. And also, please know through this that we have lost another one of our great souls. Rest in peace, Homer! I will toast your memory and our friendship today my friend. Condolences to Kathy and the entire Holmes family. God bless.