By Michael Harrell: PNT Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of three stories about nominees for the Roosevelt County Pioneer of the Year.
Heritage Days is a celebration of tradition, descent and of course, heritage. To kick off the three days of celebration an important decision is made: The winner for the Pioneer of the Year.
The Pioneer nominees must meet a specific set of criteria. They must have lived in Roosevelt County for at least 50 years, be at least 75 years old and have the upbringing and integrity needed to be named a pioneer of the county.
Hazel Murphy Holmes, a current resident of Elida, is one lady deemed to meet the criteria. She has been accepted as one of the three final nominees for the pioneer of the year that will be named Friday night at the Pioneer Reception.
Holmes, 88, has been a life-long resident of the Elida community. She was born in the country Nov. 20, 1917 in a homestead northwest of Elida. Her parents, Luther Carl and Bessie Alice Murphy, raised her and her two siblings.
Holmes has been praised as an active church-goer, an accomplished seamstress, and a skilled painter. She has also been a rancher for the majority of her life and became very active in farm and ranch business.
She was taught in a small one-room schoolhouse for her primary education, which was about 15 miles out of Elida city limits, according to her daughter-in-law, Carolyn Holmes.
“We used to have to walk a mile-and-a-half to school every day,” said Hazel. She and the neighboring children would all go together, having fun walking to school, she said.
When she finished eighth grade, Hazel moved to Clovis for a year with her uncle to attend school there because the school bus from Elida didn’t reach as far as her country home. She came back and attended the Elida High School the next year when riding the bus finally became accessible.
Hazel graduated with the class of 1935.
Four years out of high school, she was engaged to Guy Holmes. On April 8, 1939 they were married.
The two had grown up together as kids.
“Guy and I both liked spelling,” she said. “We used to have contests to see who would be the best speller.” He would ride on horseback from his homestead to hers to visit her, Hazel reminisced.
Her greatest accomplishments, according to her family, were in farm and rach. She worked alongside Guy on their own ranch in Elida. Her main duties included feeding, branding, building fences and doctoring animals, according to Carolyn. She is an active member still in the Roosevelt County Farm Bureau.
Two hobbies that Hazel excelled at throughout life were painting and sewing, according to her family. As a child she learned the art of both crafts. Her mother was a seamstress and a painter.
“When she was a kid she started making doll clothes,” said Carolyn. As she grew older she began sewing clothes for her children and grandchildren. She sewed everying from western shirts and pants to ladies dresses and quilts, according to her family.
“Hazel is very active in her church,” said Carolyn. Twenty-five years ago she started as the Sunday school secretary for the Elida Baptist Church. Her husband served on the executive board for the Baptists Association for many years until his death, when Hazel opted to finish his term for him.
The Holmes’ ranches in Elida are still owned and being lived on by the third, fourth and fifth generations.
“I think the Lord that I am in good health, and am able to still do most things I want to,” Hazel said in a Chamber of Commerce press release.