In Memory

Remembering Elsie Holmes: A Legacy of Education, Faith, and Inspiration

May 17, 2023

Alliance University was saddened to hear of the passing of former Nyack College English professor Elsie Holmes in Sidney, British Columbia. Her memorial service is being held in her home church (Olivet Baptist) in New Westminster, BC, on Sunday, May 28. 

Elsie was born in 1931 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, to Hester Ross and Harvey Holmes. She attended school in North Battleford until Grade 10 and then went to Prairie Bible Institute High School in Three Hills, Alberta. She completed Grade 12 at Prairie and then returned to the Bible School, graduating after four years. Following her graduation from Bible school, she worked for a few years, organizing children’s Bible clubs in Alberta and Saskatchewan. She then moved into the district office in Toronto for the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. During this time, Elsie was looking for additional challenges and started taking night-school courses part-time. Her love of learning resulted in a move back to the Prairies and full-time enrollment at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. By 1972, Elsie had graduated with a BA in History and English and Masters and PHD degrees in English.

Following her graduate work, Elsie accepted a position in the Department of English at Nyack College in New York, staying there for 3 years. This was followed by an invitation to join the faculty at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. Elsie gave dedicated service and instruction to the students of Trinity Western for 20 years in her position as associate professor of English and Chair of the English and Modern Languages department. She officially retired from TWU in 1996 but continued to teach a course (Children’s Literature) once or twice a year until the year 2000. During this period, Elsie was able to take a couple of sabbaticals to study at Cambridge University in the UK.

Dr. David Turk was profoundly influenced by Elsie and shared the following, “Elsie was my favorite professor in college, and I learned a great deal about how to analyze and read literature and how to teach literature by engaging students in discussions that they generate. But she was more than just a model professor; she was incredibly influential in the career path that I eventually would take; she told me in my junior years that I should become a professor at a Christian college, and this validation was both a clear direction from a professional in the field and also a blessing to my uncertain young self. I have been a professor at a Christian college now for 45 years.”

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