Cover photo for James Holmes's Obituary
James Holmes Profile Photo
1947 James 2021

James Holmes

April 26, 1947 — July 26, 2021


JAMES MERRILL HOLMES 74 of Citra, FL passed away on July 26, 2021. He was born in Peoria, IL to Merrill W Holmes, and Henrietta W Holmes. He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Carole Holmes Franks, and Elizabeth L Holmes.

Jim attended Illinois Southern University prior to deployment with the Air Force. He graduated from Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas with a degree in History following his discharge from active duty with the Air Force. During his active duty he was primarily stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and Cheyenne, Wyoming as a Comm Center Specialist.

He lived and worked in Texas for several years following discharge where he met Bill & Suzanne Nowotny who became fondly known as Papasan and Mama-san Nowotny. They became his “second” parents and their sons Pat and Mike became the brothers he’d never had. Mama-san and Papasan have also preceded Jim in death.

While working as a mortgage loan officer in Dallas, TX , Jim met Michelle K Sturm who became his wife in 1989. They relocated to Plantation, FL where Jim began his career with the State of Florida, Division of Driver License. During his career he moved thru the ranks to Hearing Officer, and his last position, Compliance Officer with CDL overseeing Third Party testing sites in North East Florida.

Jim and Michelle brought out the best in each other. They lived life to the fullest, embarking on many adventures. While in Plantation, they entered the pure bred dog world purchasing their first Bearded Collie, Winchester. By the time Remington came along, their world was changing. The family vehicle became a van complete with dog crates. Evening activities became Obedience and Handling classes. Soon a move to north central Florida ensued where they purchased several acres and set about building pens to train for herding. Of course herding requires livestock, hence the addition of goats and sheep. It only became sensible to begin breeding to offset expenses. Within a few short years, My Mystic Oaks Farm became a full fledged farm producing sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys and operating a small goat dairy. Briards were added to the fold in 1992 and had significant influence on the direction of their lives. Even in those days before the internet, he researched and wrote letters round the world to become the best farmers the best dog breeder, the best donkey producer, the best cheese maker, etc. that he could be. Jim was always seeking knowledge and in those endeavors he met may people who became great friends. Bob Vest sparked his desire to not only learn how to handle a herding dog, but how to read a dog, read the sheep, and learn to trust his dog. This relationship fueled his desire to begin breeding Briards.

Jim has been an active member of the Briard Club of America, the Bearded Collie Club of America, the American Mule and Donkey Society, Marion County Cattlemens Association, Marion Alachua Dog Training Association, a founding member of the North American Briard Club (a UKC club), Florida Farm Bureau, Sunshine State Herding Group Association, Sunshine State Rhodesian Ridgeback Club, and American Herding Breeds Association.

He entered retirement winning both Breed and Bred By Exhibitor at Eukanuba. Jim’s retirement years were spent training dogs, transporting dogs for training, breeding, showing, and ultimately judging. He had a keen eye for detail and truly relished helping a dog and owner become a team. He saw potential in people and mentored them into judging. He was very proud to claim within the breed, #1 Brood Bitch, #1 Briard, #1 Preferred Agility Dog, #1 Coursing Ability Dog - All Breeds, #1 Owner Handler and a multitude of Best In Shows at AKC, UKC, and International Shows. In Buenos Aires, he said, “it just does not get any better than this” as his bred by dog became a champion in Argentina.

The travel bug bit in 2015. Jim relished cruise ship travel to the edges of this planet. He never liked large groups, but a dinner table of 6 became his platform. He adored talking to folks from other countries, debating world politics, history, and discussing food. During extended stays in different countries, his goal was to dine where the locals dined, shop where the locals shopped, and learn as much as he could. That mindset created great adventures, and has led to many lasting friendships. Sadly, the travel list is still quite extensive as cancer cut it short.

Jim, like his dad, had a dry and cunning sense of humor. He was a pro. He was sitting a stake out several years ago, and his chosen attire was jeans, baseball cap, and a sweatshirt with a huge Tigger on it. Poor schmuck was busted by Tigger.

Retirement allowed Jim to also cook to his hearts desire. He loved to experiment and use a multitude of spices from around the world. He lived for posts from his Portuguese, Vietnamese, Chinese and Brazilian chef friends. During his illness and hospital stay, he so appreciated the friends who sent noodles, thin crust pizza, soup, and chocolate. Meeting those spontaneous desires was a feat, but worth all the effort!

Jim was a multi-layered individual who loved all things Christopher Robin as well as the Walking Dead. An avid reader all his life, kept his spirit fresh and imagination in check. He never got the memo on “TMI”… his explanations were full of details, history and anecdotal information. A friend wrote a very perceptive and intuitive description of Jim : God, Family, Country Love, Laughter Integrity, Devotion Irreverence And more love and laughter! A fitting description.

Jim is survived by his wife Michelle Kay Holmes (Sturm), mother in law, Dixie Sturm, nieces Amy Nelson (Mitch); Sarah Jones (Bill); nephew, Mark Townsend (Nancy), and several great nieces and great nephews. His constant companion Gibbet (Briard) and additional pack members, Elaina, Miko and Deaver are grieving his passing. He is dearly missed by his donkeys, and barn cats as well.

Jim has been quite emphatic in the past few weeks that he wanted a few things “said”. In his words: “nurse Justin and Yolanda, you made my short time worse. You had agendas of your own and did not take into account my wishes, my agenda, my goals, or my desires. Dr Houssain, you too had an agenda which was totally contrary to what was best for me, in my interest, and to my medical advantage. You need to learn how to listen, and until you do, you are worthless to your patients. A terminal cancer patient should not have to argue and fight for medicine, tests, diet, and the fact that they need to be listened to. Finally, to the Shands Spine Institute, I came to you for help. I had another 20-25 years of living to do and you robbed me of that by denying me basic diagnostic tests which could have led to diagnosis 6 months earlier. You robbed me of my life!

You stole my dreams! There is no excuse “ Promise kept! Jim’s words have been transcribed from the recording made of his voice. Could not bleep, so edited out a few words.

Burial with military honors will occur on Friday July 30, 2021 at 12:30 pm at the Florida National Cemetery, 6502 SW 102nd Ave, Bushnell, FL. 33513. A gathering will be held locally, with details given after the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to : the Briard Medical Trust which supports research into a multitude of conditions which have implications to all breeds, and application to human medicine. An alternate option is Tunnel to Towers Foundation, 2361 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10306, or

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Friday, July 30, 2021

Starts at 12:30 pm (Eastern time)

Florida National Cemetery

6502 SW 102nd Ave, Bushnell, FL 33513

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