Long-Time Southland Construction Industry Leader Robert M. Holmes Dies At 86 In San Marino

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SAN MARINO, CA – Robert M. Holmes, a prominent figure in Southern California’s construction industry for over a half century and a central figure in establishing Whittier, CA-based Oltmans Construction Co. to pre-eminence in the field, has died.

Holmes passed away at this San Marino home on Dec. 3 after a brief illness. He was 86.

Holmes served as president, COO, chairman of the board and chairman emeritus of Oltmans Construction Co. during an affiliation of over 45 years. He recently retired.

During this time the company rose to perennially rank among the top 20 commercial and industrial general contractors based in Los Angeles County, and regularly earned national ranking among the nation’s top 200 contractors, designations it retains to this day.

“Along with my grandfather, J. O. Oltmans, founder of Oltmans Construction Co., my father, “Bud” Oltmans, a former chairman, and Dennis Roy, Sr., Bob Holmes was instrumental in earning widespread respect for our company and increasing the competency of our services for over four decades. The Oltmans family is deeply saddened by Bob’s passing; he was a singular figure in our industry,” said J. O. Oltmans II, chairman and CEO of Oltmans Construction Co.

In addition to his executive leadership, Holmes played a leading role in professional and civic affairs. He is a past president of the California Building Industry Association and was elected a lifetime delegate in 1971. He is also a former president of the Los Angeles-based Building Constructors Association of California (now Building Industry Association). Holmes was named “Builder of the Year” by the BIA in 1971.

Additionally, Holmes served as president of the 12th Annual Pacific Coast Builders Conference and is a life director of the National Association of Home Builders. He has been an active member of the national panel of the American Arbitration Association and served on its national board of directors, served on both the Economic Development Board and Ad Hoc Committee on Economic Trends for the City of Los Angeles, and as a member of the Los Angeles County Contract Services Advisory Committee.

Holmes also served on the Laborers Training and Retraining Trust as a management trustee and on the executive committee. He served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and chaired its Construction Industries Committee. In 1984, Holmes received the committee’s “Lifetime Achievement Award”.

Long active in civic affairs, Holmes served the City of Hope in fund raising for over a decade and as president of its Construction Industries Alliance. He received the City of Hope’s coveted “Spirit of Life” Award in 1979 and was honored as “Man of the Year” by the alliance. In 1979, then Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley appointed Holmes chairman of the Construction Industry Task Force for the city’s Bicentennial celebration.

Holmes was born in Los Angeles and graduated from Hollywood High School. He served in the U.S. Navy with the SeaBees in the South Pacific during World War II. He was a member of Oakmont Country Club in Glendale for 50 years.

Holmes is survived by his wife, Joanne Watson Holmes of San Marino, son Steven of Coral Gables, FLA, and grandchildren Jeffrey Holmes of Miami, FLA, Alison Holmes of Santa Monica, Robert Kuruz of Los Angeles, and Steven Smith of San Diego. Cristin, a daughter, is deceased.

A celebration of Holmes’ life will be held in Pasadena during January. Donations can be made to Huntington Hospital, Office of Philanthropy, 100 W. California Blvd., Pasadena, CA.