Bob Holmes is a regular at Ross Cottom Lanes in Muddy and in the past few years has seen his average steadily rise.
Bowling is a relatively new experience for Holmes, who retired as Harrisburg Flood Superintendent in May of 2005 and from being a volunteer firefighter for 42 years. Retirement has opened a new sort of world for Holmes, making him wonder how he ever found the time to devote to a regular job.
About two years into retirement, Holmes found himself suddenly alone. His wife Geraldine — “Geri” — died.
“My wife passed away in 2007 and I was just kind of lonely without my mate of 44 years,” Holmes said.
Over time Holmes became reacquainted with an old friend, Gailene Harrelson, whose husband had passed away two years before his wife had and began taking on new interests.
“As time went by we started running around together, went dancing, didn’t drink or smoke, but just went to listen to bands and had a good time. She was a bowler and got me into bowling,” Holmes said.
The two visited the bowling alley and Holmes got to know owners Doug and Stacy Cottom. In the beginning Holmes was happy to keep his bowling ball away from gutters, but with coaching he got to be pretty good.
“Six years ago I was the most improved bowler that year,” Holmes said.
“I received help from Doug Cottom, various people out here. I got to make a lot of friends, a lot of acquaintances.”
He bowls twice a week — on Senior League on Tuesdays and Mixed League on Thursdays — and is a substitute bowler Monday nights and Tuesday nights.
Holmes also stays active with the Kiwanis Club meeting once a week planning various civic projects.
Since 2006 he has served on the Harrisburg Youth Athletics Board.
“It keeps me busy. I’m busier now than when I worked. I wouldn’t have time to work with the schedule I keep now,” Holmes said.
He enjoys helping the kids. He also helps those he supports in politics as the Saline County Republican Party Chairman.
In 2012 he had an opportunity to help some of those close to him.
The Cottoms lived in an apartment complex on Brady Street that was destroyed in the tornado. Doug was lifted into the air and thrown by the wind and severely injured. He remained for an extended time in the hospital recovering from a broken back. Medical costs were high. Since then the apartment complex has been rebuilt and the Cottoms have moved back in.
“I put together a bowling tournament of people throughout Southern Illinois,” Holmes said.
Page 2 of 2 - The tournament involved four sessions of 16 teams and three teams for the fifth session.
“We raised $17,000 to $18,000 for them and Modern Woodmen of America matched $2,500 that day,” Holmes said.
Holmes organized another bowling tournament for the Harrisburg High School Bowling Team. Cottom had been paying for all the equipment himself. The benefit tournament raised about $2,500 for the team that Modern Woodmen of American also matched that amount. For Holmes it does not hurt to have a sister working in Modern Woodmen.
Holmes enjoyed seeing his children succeed in their lives. His son, Bob Holmes Jr., attended school at Southern Illinois University, then University of Missouri for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and University of Illinois for his doctor’s degree. He is now the National Flood Coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey.
His daughter, Trina, attended SIC, Southern Illinois University and Indiana Wesleyan University for her master’s degree and has taught school in Carmi for more than 20 years.
The two have given him grandchildren between ages of 12 and 22 who Holmes enjoys seeing involved in sports.
“Basically, I stay busy with kids. If I help any kid better their life that’s my goal,” he said.
Another goal is getting the hay cut, raked and bailed on Brent Black Farms, the farm of his son-in-law in Gallatin County.
A third goal may not be as charitable; it involves his bowling team defeating his girlfriend’s team in Mixed Bowling league.
“She started out helping me and I was good to a point, but she would still beat the socks off me. It’s got to where now, it’s almost the other way around,” Holmes said.
Holmes bowls a 154 average in one team and a 167 in the other. His highest game was a score of 222 out of a perfect 300.
“The first time I threw the ball I was lucky to get it down the lane without getting it in the gutter. With everybody’s help and Ross Cottom Lane’s I’ve learned to really enjoy the sport,” Holmes said.
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