"Mr. Orchard Park"
Howy Holmes is a lifelong resident of Orchard Park. His home, built in 1861, was originally located along Quaker Field Stables and was owned by Harry Yates, who, among other accomplishments, was a principal with Buffalo & Pittsburgh RR and instrumental in the design and construction of the OP Depot. Howy’s parents bought about an acre or so of property from Yates and moved the historic house to its current location at Bridal Path and Freeman Rd. Howy and wife Dorothy later purchased the home from his mother in 1982 where they raised their family and continue to live today. “I went from sleeping in the kid’s bedroom to the master bedroom – about 30 feet down the hall,” he quipped.
Howy attended OP HS and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in finance from Miami Florida. There he met his wife Dorothy, in the last few days of his college career and her master’s program. He then joined the Navy reserves and served from 1966 – 1968. He and Dorothy married in 1972. Together, they raised 2 children, now grown: a daughter Chandra who lives near St. Louis, and son Tyler, who lives nearby in Amherst.
After college, Howy decided to join the family’s highway construction business, Holmes & Murphy, established in 1917 by his grandfather. His wealth of experience in design and construction has been invaluable to Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail, and the board continues to rely on him and his considerable expertise.
Throughout his adult life, Howy has been an active and avid community supporter. People often refer to Howy as ‘Mr. Orchard Park”, and rightly so! His affiliations and accolades include Orchard Park Citizen of the Year (2004), member and President of the Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce, Co-President of the Orchard Park Historical Society, President of the Quaker Friends Cemetery, board member of the Buffalo Ski Club and Hickory Hill Swim & Tennis Club, and a charter member of the Orchard Park Council of the Arts – the organization that built the Orchard Park Pavilion. “I was ‘Person of the Year’ in 2006 in Time Magazine,” he says, half-jokingly. “Just Google it.” [That was the year Time noted every citizen in that category!]
Howy is also known to be a frequent attendee at Town board meetings. “I’m interested in what’s going on. You have to read the local paper and follow what’s happening in your hometown. It’s important. How else can you make good decisions? You need to support and sometimes question your local officials. That’s democracy.”
Howy has been involved with Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail since its inception. “I mow, walk the trail in Orchard Park pretty frequently, take on maintenance jobs and participate in design and development. The new section [of the trail in Orchard Park] is so important. It links residents to the library, the depot and all the village has to offer. It’s such a great asset for the town and village. And this is just the beginning!”