JR Holmes included in Pine River's first Hall of Fame class

LEROY — Pine River schools are looking for a set of nominations for its second Hall of Fame class.

But the first one that was announced earlier this year is a class Pine River sports fans won’t soon forget.

The plaques honoring the inductees are hanging on the wall outside the north side of the high school gym.

Honorees included JR Holmes, who graduated from Pine River in 1991. His plaque reads:

“He was an incredible athlete who excelled in football and basketball. He was named all-conference and all region and was also a two-time all-state basketball player his junior and senior years at Pine River. In 1991, he was named the 13th man on the Ronald McDonald team.”

Former Pine River coach and administrator and fellow Hall inductee Ted Raven remembers Holmes very well,

“JR Holmes, has been very helpful to the school since he graduated. He graduated in many different things helping with the school,” Raven said. “He’s very deserving.”

It’s also noted that Holmes is a tireless volunteer who has coached youth soccer, basketball, wrestling football and baseball.

“He enjoys winning, “the plaque reads, but has never coached for any reason than to teach the sport and coach our kids. His passion is watching a young athlete doing something they didn’t think they could do. He becomes more than a coach to all his teams. He becomes a mentor. JR’s involvement in the Pine River community makes it a better place for everyone. He’s truly a gentle giant and has a heart of gold for every kid in the Pine River area schools.”

Among the group honorees was the 1943-44 LeRoy boys basketball team. The squad “provided the community with exciting play on the court,” the plaque reads, “and went after exciting wins. The team had an undefeated season in 1943 when the state basketball tournament ended. Their next loss would not come until a year later in the title round of the state tournament in 1944. The state was in awe of the team from a small Osceola town.”

The team was coached by Earl Lickert. Players included Herbert Swanson, Lawrence Lindell, James Sutherland, Eldred Peterson, Leland Lindquist, Irwin Gustafson, Paul Mattzella, Mike Cool, Eldred Gustafson and Paul Sutherland.

Also inducted was Dave Dickinson.

“Dave Dickinson was the grounds guy,” Raven recalled. “He was very dedicated to the district and wanted the school to look good. If he didn’t get something done before the end of his shift and the grass needed to be mowed, he’d stick with it until it got done. It was a matter of pride for him.”

Dickinson graduated from Tustin High School in 1963. He played in varsity basketball and baseball. He started working at Pine River schools in the 1980s. In his 27 years, he worked as a bus driver, custodian, maintenance man and groundskeeper and custodial supervisor.

“Not only was he a strong supporter of Pine River area schools,” the plaque reads, “he was also a leader in the community.”

Also inducted were Cobb and Illiene Nelson, who were both area graduates, Cobb in 1952 from Luther and Illiene from LeRoy in 1954. They raised five sons in the Bristol area and all graduated from Pine River. Illiene was a cook for the school and Cobb ran a family sawmill. He coached Little League and American Legion baseball and still keeps the Bristol Fields open for local youth.

“Their kids were active in athletes, and they both supported the school and were always willing to help,” Raven said. “You could count on them to help you and be there.”

Editor’s note: Other inductees will be highlighted in an upcoming issue.