Dr. Shirley Morell Holmes was born on the 17th of September, 1887 in Chatham. He was the youngest child of Dr. Tecumseh Kingsley Holmes and the former Mary Elizabeth Taylor. His father was a prominent family physician in Chatham and a respected community leader. Dr. Shirley Holmes’ sibling’s were; Dr. Garnet Wolseley Holmes born in 1874, Dr. Kingsley Hulme Holmes born in 1877, and Edith M. Holmes born in 1883.
Dr. Holmes was educated in Chatham before attending The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine where he received his M.B. degree in 1910. He went on to specialize in ophthalmology and obtained his F.R.S.C.(c) degree. His post graduate studies were done at the Crile Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio and George Washington University in Washington and Moorfield’s Hospital in London, England. According to the 1928 Ontario Medical Registry, Dr. Holmes joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons on the 18th of July, 1911.
For a time he served as a surgeon on a C.P.R. liner and the Elder Dempster Line. Dr. Holmes practiced as a surgeon for a year in Butte, Montana for the Great Northern Railway.
After leaving Butte, Montana, Dr. Holmes returned to Chatham in 1915 to practice medicine, specializing in Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat. His office was located at 5 Sixth Street.
Dr. Holmes married Beatrice Ella Irene Von Gunten, on the 3rd of March, 1915, in Chatham. She was born on the 29th of September, 1888 in Chatham, the eldest of 2 daughters born to Alex Von Guten and the former Ella Isabella “Helen” Paxton. Her father was a jeweller. Her sister Nora Maud Von Gunten was born on the 23rd of October 1892 and according to the 1911 census, the Von Gunten family resided at 25 Harvey Street in Chatham.
Dr. and Mrs. Holmes did not have any children. According to the 1921 census, Dr. and Mrs. Holmes resided at 296 Wellington Street West in Chatham. Dr. Holmes was listed in the 1941 Shepherds City of Chatham Business Directory. His office was located at “Memorial Square”.
Dr. Holmes was a member of the Chatham Rotary Club and he served as President for a term. He enjoyed skating and he was a member of the Thames Skating Club. He owned summer home’s at Mitchell’s Bay and at High Banks on Lake Erie, near Cedar Springs. Dr. Holmes also enjoyed an extensive car collection.
Mrs. Holmes died on the 8th of October, 1965. She was buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery.
After the death of Mrs. Holmes, Dr. Holmes married Elsie Tickner, who had been his office nurse. Mrs. Holmes was born on the 7th of September, 1910 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chatham. She was the 3rd of 8 children born to William Alfred Tickner and the former May Venables Willey. Her parents were born and married in England prior to immigrating to Canada in 1907. Her father was a cabinet maker and her siblings were; Linda May Tickner, Harry Edward Alfred Tickner, Twins George Henry Tickner and Edward Alfred Tickner, (baby George died on May 3rd, 1913 just 3 days after his birth due to prematurity), Walter Frederick Tickner, Edith Tickner and Leonard W. Tickner. In 1921 the Tickner family resided at 263 Inshes Ave. in Chatham. Mrs. Holmes had previously been married in Chatham to Jean Paul De La Rue on the 2nd of May, 1933. By 1935 Mrs. Holmes was widowed and she was living at 68 Harvey Street in Chatham.
Dr. Holmes retired in 1967. He died at the Public General Hospital in Chatham on the 14th of April, 1979. He was entombed in the mausoleum at the Maple Leaf Cemetery, in Chatham. His wife Elsie survived him.
*His father Dr. Tecumseh Kinglsley Holmes and his brothers; Dr. Garnet Wolseley Holmes and Dr. Kingsley Hulme Holmes all appear on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
*Three of Mrs. Elsie Holmes’s brothers served during World War II and they appear on the Gathering Our Heroes website. Edward Alfred Tickner served with the Royal Canadian Navy, Leonard W. Tickner was a gunner with the army and Walter Frederick Tickner was a sapper with the army. N
Tombstone Photo Credit: Anne F.