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Josh Holmes, former sheriff, dies at age 94

imageFormer Middlesex County Sheriff Josh Holmes, 94, died on September 24 at Riverside Convalescent Center in Saluda.

Born in 1914 at Locust Hill, he was the son of the late Zachariah and Mary Lee Dudley Holmes.

Mr. Holmes started working the water as a culling boy at the age of 9 with his father on a 28-foot log canoe.

When he got older, he worked aboard menhaden vessels on the waters of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware. He worked the water until 1970 when he took a job with the Urbanna Town Police Department.

In January of 1971, he was appointed Chief Deputy of Middlesex County by Sheriff Ryland Hall. Mr. Holmes served in that position until 1978 when, upon the resignation of Hall, he became the county’s first African-American sheriff.

He won election to a new four-year term in 1979, but lost his re-election bid in 1983.

Mr. Holmes was honored last year as Captain of the 50th Urbanna Oyster Festival and was featured in a documentary on the festival.

Among his many accomplishments, Holmes attended the Tidewater Police Academy of Old Dominion University in Norfolk. He received a certificate for successfully completing a course in DUI (detection and apprehension) from the Virginia Department of Transportation Safety, and earned a certificate for a course in executive development from the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association in Williamsburg in January 1980.

He completed a course in management for new sheriffs from the Virginia Association in Lynchburg and received a certificate on December 9, 1979.

Mr. Holmes was a member of Bethlehem Star Lodge #249 in Saluda.

He was educated at My Lady’s Bridge School and The Calvary School located at Christchurch. At an early age he accepted Christ as his Lord, was baptized, and joined Calvary Baptist Church at Christchurch.

On July 4, 1939 he was joined in holy matrimony to the late Willie Mary Corr and to this union six children were born, two of whom preceded him in death.

Survivors include two sons, Joshua Holmes Jr. of Fayetteville, N.C., and Elmore Holmes of Saluda; two daughters, Julia F. Graham and Hallie J. Holmes, both of Saluda; a brother and a sister, John W. Holmes and Dorothy Holmes, both of Locust Hill; seven grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; a special friend, Levi Braxton Sr.; an adopted son, William T. Bagby; and Natasha Nicole Elizabeth Smith Drummond, who thought of Mr. Holmes as “my grandaddy.”

A funeral service was held Sunday, September 28, at Antioch Baptist Church in Saluda, and interment was in the church cemetery with Masonic rites.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Mr. Holmes can be made to the Calvary Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 350, Saluda, VA 23149; Antioch Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1375, Saluda, VA 23149; or the Central Middlesex Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 790, Urbanna, VA 23175.

posted 10.02.2008

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