Officials with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office are in mourning for one of their own.
Word spread quickly when the agency learned of the Oct. 18 passing of Ret. Lieutenant Columbus Eugene Holmes, 75.
Following the announcement, Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson offered his condolences to the Holmes family, according to a JCSO news release. He also ordered that flags at the Sheriff’s Office be flown at half-staff in Holmes’ honor.
Holmes was born on May 13, 1943, in Pine Bluff. He was educated within the Altheimer Public School System, where he attended Martin Elementary from 1947 to 1953 and Martin High School from 1954 to 1959. Holmes married his wife, Doris Jean Brooks-Holmes in 1988.
“Holmes always had a passion for serving others,” the news release said.
“He joined the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on March 1, 1977, at a time when racial tensions were still high and African American leadership within the ranks of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was rare. However, this didn’t stop Holmes from excelling and eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant within the agency.”
Holmes was first assigned to the Uniformed Patrol Division in 1977.
“His service was unmatched, and in 1988 earned him the Distinguished Service Award by then-Arkansas Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Cary Gaines,” the news release said.
In 1994, Holmes was promoted to the rank of corporal, and just three-and-a-half months later to sergeant. As a sergeant, Holmes was responsible for planning, organizing, coordinating and supervising the activities of assigned shift personnel within the Uniformed Patrol Division.
“Holmes’ work performance, style of supervision and exceptional treatment of his subordinates earned him a promotion to the rank of lieutenant in 1997,” according to the news release.
Holmes retired on April 11, 2001; however, retirement was short-lived. Just two months later, Holmes rejoined the Sheriff’s Office as a part-time deputy sheriff in June of 2001, before retiring a second time in 2018. Holmes’ final retirement netted him a combined total of nearly 41 years of dedicated law enforcement service.
Following his retirement, Holmes’ health quickly declined, yet he still remained an essential part of the Sheriff’s Office until his passing, the news release said.
“As a member of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, he was always the first to arrive for work each morning and available whenever I needed him,” Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson said.
“I am saddened by the loss of a true and loyal friend, Columbus Holmes. Columbus was an iconic figure of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. He represented this department with pride and with utmost professionalism. When I learned of his passing, not only did I realize that I had lost a friend but a brother who has known me and been a part of my life even before my law enforcement career began. We have shared great times, sad times, encouraging times, but through it all, we maintained a friendship that was inseparable.
“Often times, Columbus would share a scripture from the Bible that would encourage us all and renew our spirit and faith in God. That was so much a part of Columbus’ life. He loved the Lord and his life reflected his relationship with God. I will miss my friend dearly. I know he is with the Lord. One of Columbus’ favorite scriptures that he would recite is John 14:2; ‘Let not your heart be troubled. In my father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.’
“Columbus has had a place prepared for him. We will miss him very much. He has brought joy to so many. We have to say goodbye for now. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Others like Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Chief Deputy Stanley James, who knew Holmes well, reflected on his interaction and relationship with Holmes.
“After 23-years of law enforcement service, I can still recall my first encounter with a member of law enforcement in Pine Bluff. Although it was January of 1987, I remember it like it were yesterday. I was just arriving in Pine Bluff to enroll as a sophomore at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff,” James said.
“Having been born and reared in Jackson, Mississippi, I was new to Arkansas and the City of Pine Bluff. Once I arrived here, I saw a deputy sheriff conducting a traffic stop at the corner of Main/Harding Ave.
“He was well groomed, and his uniform was flawless. His boots were polished so well that the sun gleamed off them like a mirror. I said to myself, that deputy has it going on. Little did I know that it would be that initial encounter with Columbus that sparked my interest in the law enforcement profession. Columbus was an inspiration to me and countless others. He will be sorely missed.”
Many spoke of Holmes’ sense of humor and his passion for working as a law enforcement officer. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Operations Commander and sheriff-elect Major Lafayette Woods Jr. described Holmes as the ultimate role model and public servant.
“Columbus meant so much to all of us, but for me, personally, I find it hard to put in words just what kind of person he was because he wore so many titles,” Woods said.
“He had a great sense of humor and made all of us laugh. More than that, Columbus was a role model, servant leader and like a grandfather to me. However, above all things, he was a God-fearing man. He was deeply rooted in his faith and would often share his spiritual views with me. Columbus loved to shop and was known by everyone within the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and beyond as the ‘best dresser,’ even winning the official title accompanied by an award presented to Columbus at one of the sheriff’s office’s earlier awards banquets. Each morning, Columbus would come into my office and wait for me to comment on his wardrobe. You would never catch Columbus wearing the same clothes twice, and I mean even in the same year.
“Professionally, Columbus was a dedicated public servant, who performed his duties in a manner that bought honor to the entire law enforcement profession. He leaves a legacy behind that will long endure the passage of time and will remain as a comforting memory to all that were privileged to know him.”