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The Southern Herald of Liberty, Mississippi

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Funeral services were held Sunday, November 1, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. at Flowery Mount Missionary Baptist Church in McComb for Odessa Johnson Holmes, 95, of McComb and a native of Amite County. Rev. Robert Vick officiated. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery, under the direction of Cook's Enterprise Funeral Home in McComb.

Ms Holmes passed away Saturday, October 24, 2015, at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in McComb.

Born November 6, 1919, in Liberty, Ms Holmes was the daughter of Frank and Bertha Jagers Johnson, both deceased.

Ms Holmes, the youngest of fourteen, had a long and distinguished history in Christianity, education and civic affairs. She was raised with utmost integrity in a Christian family. Her mother was a Missionary Baptist and her father was a Methodist. She joined her mother's church at an early age, Parson Hill M.B. Church in Amite County. The edification she received at these churches helped guide her virtuous walk with Christ. Her transition to McComb emanated in a lifelong membership at Flowery Mount M.B. Church, under the leadership of Rev. Rice, and she was affectionately known as Mother Holmes.

Ms Holmes was active in numerous auxiliaries and held leadership roles at Flowery Mount as Sunday school teacher, Bible school teacher, director of the inspirationa youth choir, senior choir member, senior missionary society president, mother board president, pastor's aide club treasurer and YWC Church Club. She was a member of the Pike County Women's Missionary Association, Pike County Sunday School Convention and National Sunday School Convention. She truly believed in unwavering service to the Good Lord.

Ms Holmes was inspired early in life to be a teacher. As her passion for knowledge grew she observed the individual differences in the classroom and saw what it would take to help children learn and become successful. Even at that early age, she felt that spark inside when she saw that she had helped another child understand their lesson. Along with that inner spark to teach, four of her older sisters, who were already in the field of teaching, were also inspiring to her.

Ms Holmes received her elementary education at the May Flower Elementary School, which was located on her grandfather's farm, the noted Isaac Johnson in Amite County. She completed junior high school at Jones School in Amite County in Gloster. Her first two years of high school were completed at Pike County Agricultural Life School. She earned her diploma from Prentiss Normal Industrial Institute. This was only the beginning of her educational journey.

Ms Holmes earned a B.S. degree in elementary education from Southern University in Baton Rouge and a master's degree in elementary from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. She furthered her studies at Stanford University in California, Webster College in St. Louis, Alcorn State University, University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State University and Jackson State University.

Ms Holmes began working to achieve her goal as an educator in 1956. She became an elementary classroom teacher, with her first three years in the South Pike School District at Kelly Rosenwald School in Osyka. Her service as a classroom teacher continued in the McComb School District in 1959, where she taught sixth grade advanced mathematics. She retired in 1982 from the McComb School District.

During her career in education, Ms Holmes served in different positions on multiple levels-local, regional and national. She received numerous awards, certificates and certifications throughout her tenure as an educator. She was a faithful member of the National Education Association and served as a consultant, presenter and participant for classroom teachers on the local, regional and national levels. She served as a member of the McComb School District Board of Trustees from 1988 to 2003.

Odessa united in matrimony to her devoted, lovign husband, Lonnie Holmes in 1940. There were married sixty-one years until he passed in 2001. To this union three beautiful children were born — Franky James, Audrey Lyvonne and Lonnie Jean. Together they operated an ice cream parlor in the 1950s in the Burglund Community.

Ms Holmes was a longtime member of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. In 1948, she became a charter member of the Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. She actively served the federation in different capacities for more than fifty years on the local, state, regional and national levels. Georgia Westbrook Federation Club was her local affiliation. She was also an active member of the McComb Club for several years. She served as president at local, district and state levels and as a delegate at all levels. In 1979, Ms Holmes was elected Club Woman of the Year.

Ms Holmes was also active in the civic arena. She was a member of the advisory board for the McComb Recreational Center, Head State Policy Council, Burglund Development Club, Homemakers Club and the Advancement of Colored People. She humbly served Pike County citizens as District 1 Election Commissioner for twelve years (1992-2004) and was truly honored to be elected to four terms.

In addition to her parents, Ms Holmes was preceded in death by her husband; her son; eigh sisters, Louise, Exidena, Cuba, Trudie, Rosea, Flora, Lena and Willimena; and four brothers, James Hosea, William, Thomas and Benjamin Franklin Sr.

Ms Holmes leaves behind to cherish her memory two loving and devoted daughters, Audrey H. Jenkins of McComb and Lonnie Jean Kelly of Winnetka, California; a sister, Victoria Andrews of Greensboro, North Carolina; a grandson, William A. Jenkins III (Tonya) of Douglasville, Georgia; six granddaughters, Portia Seals, Greta Stubblefield (Osie), and Robin Campbell (Elwell), all of Houston, Texas, Seymone Kelly of Winnetka, Latonia Holloway and Renada Taylor of McComb; twelve great-grandchildren, Natasha Jenkins, Ericka Redmond, Alphonso R. Seals, Kenitra Jenkins-Cameron (George), William A. Jenkins IV, Latira Holloway, Myles Campbell, Denisia Taylor, Chloe Jenkins, Keara Taylor, Patrice Stubblefield and Tanaya Holloway; two great-greatgrandchildren, Harmony Isabella Cameron and Jace Ashton Cameron; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, church family, federated family and friends.

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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