Hughes said Holmes was a family man who was married to Rita for 67 years. She passed away in 2010. They had three sons, Jim, David, and Bill, and four daughters, Lorie (Futch), Cathy (Roth), and Honey (Ellerby), Genevieve (Carson), and 26 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Hughes noted that the Holmeses were faithful Catholics who passed their faith and morals onto their children; all six children were involved in pro-life, with son Jimmy becoming president of Business for Life and daughter Lorie headed Birthright in Phoenix in the 1980s after moving to Arizona.
Ray Holmes was a dentist, and his office’s dentist chair was located directly across from Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Toronto. He would use the opportunity to discuss religion with patients and when nuns came who were afraid of dental care, he told them to look down the center aisle when the church doors were open and while promising to be as gentle as possible, urged them offer up whatever pain they had.
Hughes said Holmes offered free dental service to pro-lifers, especially those who made public appearances on television or making speeches, including himself and Campaign Life Coalition’s Mary Ellen Douglas.
It was one of many ways in which Holmes manifested his pro-life convictions. He founded Brampton Right to Life, attended pro-life conferences, worked for the Family Coalition Party, picketed a Brampton hospital that committed abortions, erected a large pro-life sign on his property north of Toronto which was repeatedly vandalized, and, in 1989, was arrested after participating in Operation Rescue outside Toronto’s Morgentaler abortuary. Hughes recalled that when Ray’s wife Rita visited him in the Mimico jail she urged him to sign a document promising to not return to the abortion mill so he could come home. Ray, then 71 years old, refused, saying he would not leave as long as Fr. Ted Colleton remained behind bars. They both remained in jail for six weeks awaiting their trial.
The couple also appeared in a pro-life commercial that ran in the 1980s aimed at politicians. They said “don’t bother to knock if you’re not pro-life.”
Hughes first met Holmes on Oct. 7, 1978 when Campaign Life held it’s inaugural meeting in Toronto. They hit it off immediately and Holmes, who would often come to CL’s office with his teenage daughter to volunteer, became a mentor. “He gave commonsense advice,” recalls Hughes. “‘keep yourself focused,’ he would say and ‘remember you are on God’s side’.”
The two became close friends and Hughes said he was proud to have been present at so many family celebrations, including birthdays and anniversaries.
Holmes also had a sense of humour. One time when Hughes emptied his pockets at the Holmes house to get comfortable, Ray insisted Jim take off his watch, too. Hughes initially resisted but relented. Holmes had a plan, and later pushed the leader of CLC into the swimming pool.
Holmes was a polio survivor and had a club foot, but never a needed a wheelchair until his last few years. That did not stop him from attending the National March for Life this year, which he attended annually since the event began in 1998. In June he suffered a heart attack and his health deteriorated quickly.
On the morning of July 9 Hughes was awakened by a phone call from Jimmy Holmes, Ray’s son, who without saying hello said “you killed my father.” The previous evening, returning from a Business for Life meeting, Jim and Ginny Hughes stopped by the Holmes house to visit and pray. After they left, Ray and his family said more prayers and upon the closing Amen to finish the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Ray Holmes stopped breathing. Hughes described it as the perfect ending for such a devoted and faithful servant of God.