Honoring Dr. Holmes

Jordan Toole, MBA
June 07, 2021
Dr. J. Robert Holmes

We are saddened to announce the loss of Dr. J. Robert Holmes on March 17, 2021. Dr. Bob Holmes was a retired faculty member from the Department of Prosthodontics and a forever member of the College of Dental Medicine family. Without his significant impact on dental education across the state of South Carolina, CDM would not be where we are today.

The Lunch Bunch 
The Lunch Bunch

Dr. Bob Holmes began his path in Miami, Florida, obtaining his Bachelor of Science and Master of Education at the University of Miami. A few years later, he graduated with his D.D.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Master of Science in Prosthodontics, which opened the opportunity for him to start with us on July 1, 1987, as an assistant professor within the Department of Prosthodontics. Four years later, in 1991, he was promoted to associate professor within the same department. After 15 years of continued dedication and passion for dentistry, Dr. Holmes was promoted to professor within the Department of Oral Rehabilitation. After dedicating his life to the field of dentistry, Dr. Holmes retired from CDM on January 31, 2015, as professor emeritus.

As this announcement has come out, many individuals have shared their thoughts and condolences with us, which we would like to share with each of you:

“If you were lucky enough to have met Dr. Bob Holmes after he retired, he probably never even told you he had been on faculty for several decades. He was a very unassuming and humble individual. He was a very well-trained prosthodontist who never wanted to be recognized as such. He only wanted the knowledge to serve his students and patients at an excellent level. While in faculty practice, he did most of his own lab work. Including casting and stacking porcelain. I still see many of his patients today that ask about him every time they come to DFP. He was truly loved by his patients. He taught fixed prosthodontics for years and is legendary around alumni and faculty alike. He had a special way of encouraging individuals at just the right time. I cannot say enough about him. Honestly, I might have left dental school without him.”

Dr. Dr. Monica Cayouette

“Sadly, Dr. Bob Holmes has passed away. He was a longtime rock of academic strength for the CDM - a man of highest integrity and devotion to the college. In a time of real ‘honor crisis’ in the college, he guided the Honor Council with distinction, serving many years as its faculty advisor. Seeing serious flaws in the Honor Code, he painstakingly rewrote that document, thankfully changing it into something ‘more worthy’ of its name. I followed his tenure as faculty advisor for seven years, so I know the good he did in that arena. Bob was one of my very best friends of all times.”

Dr. Eddie Collins

“I had the good fortune of recruiting and hiring Dr. Holmes. He was an exceptional person and faculty member. It is very difficult to be a perfectionist in dentistry, but Bob always would strive for perfection in his daily work in classroom, clinic or wherever he may be. While I served as department chair, I always turned to Bob to give me wise information on decision making. It is comforting in those situations to have someone you can truly trust and depend on, and Bob exceeded those ideals. I witnessed many students come to him for advice when they felt overwhelmed with the stress of dental education. With a few kind words he could help them feel better. He was a true friend of the students. In my dental education career, I had the opportunity to work with many outstanding faculty members. Bob was the best of the best!  It is the loss of a true friend, but we are all better for our good fortune of knowing him.”

Dr. James Rivers

 “He was my dear friend, and did so much for our students. Always willing to go above and beyond. Most ethical master clinician I ever knew and worked with. God bless.”

Dr. Tariq Javed

As the news was published on social media, there were a countless number of comments from members of all backgrounds expressing their sadness along with sharing fascinating stories of their experiences with Dr. Holmes. Many DMD alumni were quoted: “I am stunned, as he was one of my favorite professors”, and “What an incredible loss! He was an amazing teacher.” Someone wrote that he had used one of Dr. Holmes’ many infamous quotes that very day: “Rounded and smooth.” Many of us will continue to remember Dr. Holmes fondly through many other exchanges and anecdotes.

Meggan Gindhart, CDM business manager, shared a beautiful memory with us regarding Dr. Holmes: “With the passing of Dr. Bob Holmes, we lost a member of the prestigious ‘Coca Cola Club’ who met daily in the CDM fourth-floor student lounge for years.  Having been afforded the privilege of knowing this group, composed of distinguished gentlemen with a passion for their profession, is an honor. After learning that such a special member of this group was no longer with us, I began reflecting on the importance of the ‘Coca Cola Club’ and what it represented. Some viewed this afternoon ritual as a means of decompressing after a long day, but it was much more. This time together was cherished because they weren’t just colleagues, they were friends. Friends that, for no other reason than to bask in each other’s company, gathered around a table, perched in unofficial assigned seats, while sipping on sodas (always a Diet Coke for Dr. Holmes).  Having worked together for decades, they held a special bond that was treasured. Memories of watching this group trickle into the student lounge while simultaneously filling the air with laughter will forever remain one of my favorite recollections of CDM during that era. I will forever remember Dr. Holmes’ infectious smile, dedication to CDM, and ability to make everyone feel like a better person just by knowing him. Dr. Holmes, you will certainly be missed not only by your family, friends, and colleagues but by the hundreds, if not thousands, of students whose lives that you touched.”

Dr. Holmes in the lab 

A few of our favorite comments included a couple of the amazing stories that Dr. Holmes’ students had shared. One included that they will “never forget in pre-clinical prosthodontics in the sim lab, he came over the speakers to give all of us some advice on preparing teeth. He said, ‘You students keep asking me what technique I use to prevent damage to the adjacent tooth during a crown prep. I use the Holmes Technique. As your bur approaches the adjacent tooth, right before you hit it, you stop!”

Another alum mentioned how Dr. Holmes would give the best advice. Some of the advice she had received included, “When your patients ask how many times you’ve done a procedure, tell them ‘somewhere under 100.’ Even if it’s your second time, you’re not wrong!” So many continue to be “saddened”, “devastated,” and “hurt” with hearing of this such awful news, as Dr. Holmes was truly one of the best. He was so very “kind, gentle and incredibly gifted at not only dentistry, but teaching as well.”

Please join us in expressing our sincere condolences to all of his friends and family during this extremely tough time. Dr. Holmes will forever be a part of the College of Dental Medicine, as a top member in the field of dentistry. There will be no services, as his body will be cremated. As many of us were aware, Dr. Bob Holmes had a true love relationship with the ocean, as he had grown up surfing. With that in mind, it was his wish for his ashes to be spread at sea.

About the Author

Jordan  Toole, MBA
Multimedia and communication manager, At-large member, Staff Leadership Council
James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine

Keywords: College News