By Micah Turner, Student Writer
On October 17th, Alice Lloyd College had the pleasure of hosting wonderful friends Fred and Barbara Holmes, along with their family, for a convocation to celebrate Free Enterprise Day and the naming of Holmes Hall – a female residence hall that opened in August of this year.
Fred Holmes is a third-generation oilman, born and raised outside Maricopa, California. Raised on an oil lease, he entered into the oil business at a mere age of 13. He made sure he got there early and left late; he worked harder than everyone else because he didn’t want anyone to think he got special privileges because he was the boss’ son.
Fred’s ambition led him to acquire Western Well Service and, subsequently, Western Drilling. His commitment to preserving jobs for his employees during lean times led to the creation of Holmes Western Oil Corporation, ensuring the livelihoods of countless families in the community.
Fred actively participated in various industry organizations and community initiatives throughout his career. He served as a member or board member for organizations such as the Association of Energy Services Companies (AESC), the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE), the Independent Oil Producers Agency (IOPA), and more. Fred’s company was recognized as the California BLM oil operator of the year in 2009, and he has received lifetime achievement awards from AESC, CIPA, and IOPA.
Fred married his high school sweetheart, Barbara, and together, they have raised two daughters and have since become proud grandparents to six grandchildren. Their shared sense of humor, drive, and determination were the cornerstones of their relationship. Fred and Barbara feel blessed to be able to give back to the people in the community, and they firmly believe it is important to be good stewards of all God has given them.
On Free Enterprise Day, he shared moral values and life lessons with ALC’s students, encouraging them to stay true to the Christian values and Purpose Road Philosophy taught at the College. In his address, Mr. Holmes highlighted the importance of treating people well and caring for your customers, employees, and colleagues. He noted that even in hard times when prices were down and not a lot of money was coming in, he and his wife, Barbara, took the loss out of their own pockets to maintain a source of income for their employees. They swapped to drilling their own wells instead of contracted wells. While there wasn’t much profit, their employees and their families were taken care of.
Mr. Holmes then shared how he, a California native, came to help fund a mountain college in Eastern Kentucky. Mrs. Holmes discovered a piece of “junk mail” that meant more than any other letter. The letter was from Alice Lloyd College. Mrs. Holmes, desiring to honor a school teacher in her own family, made a one-time donation to the College. ALC President Jim Stepp showed up as an unexpected visitor months later to thank the family for their contributions to the College, and a friendship developed. Mr. and Mrs. Holmes have since made several visits to Pippa Passes and helped fund scholarships and projects on campus.
Mr. Holmes says he can’t describe the feelings he gets from visiting and being a part of the ALC family, and stated, “You are what Americans should be: well-dressed people making good grades and being good student workers.”
As Mr. Holmes finished addressing his ALC audience, President Stepp took the stage and issued a resolution from the Board of Trustees to honor Mr. and Mrs. Fred Holmes for their commitment to Alice Lloyd College. The crowd gave the family a well-deserved standing ovation and applauded Mr. and Mrs. Holmes for their dedication to Alice Lloyd College and the Pippa Passes community. Expressing the College’s appreciation, President Stepp acknowledged the Holmes family for genuinely exemplifying the spirit of the Purpose Road Philosophy taught by Alice Lloyd and June Buchanan.
The generosity of our friends like the Holmes Family allows Alice Lloyd College to continue serving Appalachian students by providing them with a quality, character-based education while paying no out-of-pocket cost for tuition. We are humbled by the generosity of the Holmes family and others across the country who keep the century-old mission of providing leadership for Appalachia alive today.