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After a long wonderful life, longtime Cheyenne resident, local entrepreneur, and co-founder of Taco John’s International, Harold W. Holmes, passed away February 10, 2012, at the Mayo Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, with heart complications. At his side was his wife of 72 years, Nona, and many of his family members.
Harold was born in Chariton, Iowa, on November 14, 1919, and came to Wyoming as an infant with his family; they settled on property 20 miles north of Cheyenne. He graduated from Cheyenne High in 1938 and went on to work for United Airlines as a mechanic. His love for flying drove him to enlist in the Army Air Corps in hopes of becoming a pilot. However, the war ended before he began his pilot training. This only temporarily postponed him from becoming an avid and accomplished pilot later in life.
In 1939, he married his true love, Nona (Zimmerman). The two returned to Cheyenne and Harold began a career in business which spanned 68 years and included a wide range of ventures. In 1946, after attending auctioneer school, he began his auctioneering business at a small location in Cheyenne. It didn’t take long for Harold and Nona to realize grander visions and expand to a larger building which would house larger auctions and eventually would have space to sell new and used furniture, sewing machines, large appliances, televisions and carpet. Holmes Auction Appliance and Furniture Store, was in business in Cheyenne for 40 years. During that span of time, Harold and Nona also owned and operated Holmes Diaper Service in the late 1940s, Holmes Camper Exchange which manufactured campers and travel trailers under the names of “Holmes on Wheels” which started in the 1960s, and Holmes Equipment and Supplies which continues to manufacture stainless steel restaurant equipment nationwide.
Harold’s greatest business adventure began in 1969. After liquidating their furniture store in the late 1960s, Harold and Nona entered the world of fast food franchising and started Taco John’s International with co-founders Jim and Marion Woodson. Taco John’s franchises today number over 400 and are spread throughout Wyoming and 24 other states. Harold and Nona’s passion for Taco John’s is just as strong today as their partnership saw several new restaurants open in 2011 and have one in Longmont, CO currently under construction.
At the top of Harold’s list of passions were his wife and family, but close behind were his enjoyment of flying, riding his Goldwing, watching baseball, skiing, golfing, traveling and discussing politics. One of his last quotes was “I have lived one of the most fortunate lives that anybody could live.”
Surviving Harold is his wife Nona Holmes; four children, Carolyn Holmes O’Conner and husband, Terry, Denny Holmes and wife, Chris, Sandy Holmes Ross and husband, Tony, and Kandy Holmes Hartman and husband, Clayton; eight grandchildren, Kelly O’Conner Digby and husband, Donny, Brandy O’Conner and wife, Lindsay, Kathleen Holmes, Nicholas Holmes and wife, Leah, Cameron Ross, Keaton Ross, Haley Hartman and Morgan Hartman; and five great-grandchildren, Trey Digby, Reagan Digby, Jackson O’Conner, Rylee O’Conner and Payson Holmes.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, February 16, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Schrader Funeral Home. A funeral service will be conducted on Friday, February 17th at 10:00 a.m. at the Cheyenne Hills Church with The Reverend Galen Huck and The Reverend Kurt Borgaard co-officiating. A private entombment service will be held in Lakeview Cemetery.
Expressions of sympathy in Harold’s memory may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project by going to www.woundedwarriorproject.org.